Health leaders know the patient experience is crucial for long-term success. Yet, measuring and tracking improvements for something as subjective as an experience can be challenging. However, it is possible, so here are several metrics to gauge how you’re doing and help you improve your patient financial experience.
Are patients engaged?
Patient engagement is the most direct way to impact the patient experience. How often do your patients hear from you? From a financial standpoint, how clear are the payment communications? Be sure to engage your patients across multiple channels, so they can interact in whichever way best fits their daily lives. When Patientco surveyed patients and providers, we found that more than half of patients, 53 percent, prefer to receive emailed communication. Some even prefer texts over email or mailed paper statements. Yet, 98 percent of providers still use mailed paper statements as the primary means of communication.
How to measure success:
- Opt-in rates: Not every patient wants to receive communication in the same way. One may prefer emails while another prefers text messages. Some might even want a paper statement. However, now that the majority of Americans own a smartphone and use email, according to Pew Research, it’s important to accommodate their communication preferences. Health Systems can measure their ability to accommodate those preferences by tracking email and text opt-in rates. Higher opt-in rates mean you can reach patients in the channel of their choice, resulting in more effective engagement.
- Click-through rates: Email open rates reveal valuable insights about patient engagement performance. Consider the subject lines you’re using, the time of day your emails are sent, or even the day of the week they’re received. Monitoring trends in your open rates can help you improve patient engagement and ultimately, improve the patient financial experience. Likewise, if you offer text notifications, evaluate those click-through rates. By analyzing open rates and click-throughs, you can begin to understand how many of messages resulted in a completed payment.
What percentage of patients pay?
Once you have a better understanding of your patient engagement performance, you can analyze patient participation. This refers to the number of patients who pay and how they complete those payments. Low participation rates or very few completed self-service payments could indicate friction in the patient payment process. When you make it easier for patients to pay, you’ll improve the patient financial experience and your engagement score.
How to measure success:
- Patient participation rate: Participation rates will give you a general temperature read on the effectiveness of your patient payment process. To dig deeper, evaluate whether your non-paying patients tend to drop off at a certain point in the process. For example, does the “pay now” button on your mobile site work just as well as it does on your desktop web? These metrics can illuminate hidden pain points.
- Self-service vs. staff-assisted payments: In addition to the number of patients making payments, you should measure how those patients are paying. Health systems should aim for at least 80 percent in self-service payments. Most consumers prefer to avoid customer service calls, so low self-service payment rates might indicate high patient frustration levels. Speaking of customer service calls, our survey also revealed that most patient calls, 57 percent, stem from confusing or inaccurate bills. Clear, customized statements with patient-friendly billing language will address this issue and when patients trust their bill, they are more likely to pay.
Is your strategy tailored to each patient?
No two patients are the same. Just as you treat patients differently clinically, their payment experience should be personalized to match their preferences and financial situation. Intelligent software can help you tailor payment options or offers to the individual, so you can provide a pleasant financial experience, customized for each and every patient.
How to measure success:
- Payment plan enrollment rate: How many of your patients are enrolled in payment plans? Affordability is key to boosting patient payments, and providing the right payment plan for each patient is crucial. Also, offer digital enrollment, as we’ve seen this increase payment plan adoption by 10 times for one large health system. Our latest survey of patients and providers revealed that nearly 70 percent of patients prefer digital enrollment. Meanwhile, 68 percent of providers enroll patients via staff-intensive methods, like phone or in-person. Providing self-service digital enrollment can differentiate your patient financial experience and help you earn patient loyalty.
- Average number of bills sent: How many bills do you send before payment is received? If the number is high, you may need to adjust your financial communications and payment options. Take a look at other factors that might influence the number of billing statements, such as the balance amount. Patients who incur high bills may require a different strategy to improve the patient financial experience and ensure it’s a positive one.
Time to Improve the Patient Financial Experience
While first impressions may get all the attention, but when it comes to healthcare, last impressions are just as important. The payment process is the final interaction patients will have with your organization. A poor payment experience can completely negate a positive clinical outcome.
Measuring and tracking the patient financial experience will empower your health system to improve that experience. These improvements matter. When we surveyed patients, nearly 80 percent revealed that they consider the billing and payment process when choosing a healthcare provider. Applying some of these strategies will help your organization earn that next visit.