Last week was quite eventful for Patientco! From announcing our HFMA Peer Review designation to visiting Las Vegas for HFMA Western Symposium – our team was busy to say the least. Speaking of HFMA Western Symposium, I presented during one of the breakout sessions – it was all about using data to improve patient financial engagement. I shared some interesting stats throughout my presentation and the audience seemed to enjoy it!

In case you weren’t able to make it, I’ll recap some of the highlights from my session in today’s blog!

Key Takeaways from My Session at HFMA Western Symposium

1. Accelerate the shift to digital.

Patients prefer digitalToday’s patients want more digital communications, not paper. In fact, nearly 72% of patients stated they prefer digital communication from their provider over paper mail or phone calls, according to a recent Patientco survey (see graph to the right).

One way health systems can accommodate this is by sending bills to patients via digital channels. Shameless plug here – Patientco supports this with our Digital-First Billing feature. Digital-First Billing, which is part of our SmartCommunications platform, allows health systems to engage with patients via email or text first without mailing a paper statement. This helps boost patient satisfaction. In fact, the Net Promoter Scores for patients who receive bills digitally is 34% higher than the scores of patients who receive paper bills via mail. Not only are patients engaged via the digital channels they prefer, but the health systems using Digital-First Billing have increased their online, self-service payment rate by more than 30%! 

2. Help patients understand their bills.

When we asked patients what information they want from providers about their medical bills, the top request was an easy-to-understand explanation of charges (see chart to the left).

Confusing billing terms help no one. For one, they make it harder for patients to understand and pay their bill. Second, they create higher patient call volume because patients call their health system with questions about their bill. So, how can we address this?

To start, health systems should translate billing terms into plain language. I also told the audience at HFMA Western Symposium to personalize billing communication. There are several ways to do this. For instance, if a patient made a pre-service payment, the balance on their post-service bill should reflect that payment history. Or, if a patient made a partial payment on their balance, but didn’t enroll in a payment plan, you can trigger email communication to remind them of the flexible payment options that are available to them. Tailoring communication like this is worthwhile. Here’s why: our latest survey revealed that patients are more likely to trust a message when it’s personalized to them. Plus, we can’t expect patients to pay a bill they don’t trust, let alone understand.

3. Make care more affordable.

Patients prefer digital enrollmentWhat are patients most concerned about when it comes to their healthcare bills? Affordability. The audience at HFMA Western Symposium wasn’t surprised by this. However, they weren’t expecting how simple it can be to address those concerns. Give patients the option to pay their bills in installments if the balance exceeds a certain amount. It’s what 90% of patients want, according to our survey. But don’t stop there.

Let patients sign up for these flexible payment options online. In our survey, we asked patients how they prefer to enroll in a payment plan or financing option and nearly 70% said online (see graph to the right). They don’t want to call their health system’s business office to set up a payment plan.

Supporting online, self-service enrollment doesn’t just create a better experience for patients. It also benefits your health system. Patientco’s data team found that when patients enroll themselves in a payment plan, they make higher monthly payments and pay off their balance faster than if they’d signed up by calling their health system’s business office. In fact, the median monthly payment for a self-service payment plan is $108 compared to $85 for a staff-assisted payment plan. This stat surprised the crowd at HFMA Western Symposium!

Want more data-driven best practices?

Don’t let the HFMA Western Symposium attendees keep these insights to themselves! We’ve got plenty of data that can help you deliver better patient financial care and boost your revenue cycle team’s performance. For more best practices like these, schedule a brief meeting with us.