Health Systems can and should step up their payments game to promote more patient payments. But, their success hinges on how well they engage patients, and address their patients’ expectations and challenges related to paying medical bills.
In fact, the banking industry was able to step up its payments game by addressing consumer expectations and challenges related to mobile payments with Zelle. Launched last year by several large banks, Zelle is a P2P payment service that allows consumers to quickly send money to anyone, regardless of where they bank with just an email address or phone number. This service was the banking industry’s response to Venmo, a wildly popular mobile payments app.
In just 12 months, Zelle reported a whopping 83 percent growth in transaction volume. This rapid success demonstrates consumers’ growing demand for more modern, streamlined payment options.
So, if the nation’s biggest banks were able to answer to those demands, shouldn’t healthcare? Healthcare organizations can and here’s how:
Meet patients where they are.
To best engage with patients, Health Systems must understand how patients prefer to receive financial communication and how they respond to that communication. Data is crucial here. This is because a patient might consciously opt in for one method of communication, but respond through a different channel. Data can highlight these instances and may help you understand why the patient responded that way.
Take Zelle for example. Zelle’s success largely stems from its ability to engage with consumers in a way that other third-party mobile payment providers did not. A survey by technology provider, Early Warning reveals that many consumers who engage in a P2P payment for the first time did so because it was offered through their trusted financial institution’s mobile app. By tailoring its interface to consumers’ preferred engagement method, which required integration with a user’s existing banking app, Zelle has become a major player in the payments space.
On the healthcare side, analyzing a patient’s behavioral data enables your organization to optimize its approach to financial communication. This encourages patients act on that communication by completing a payment.
Track metrics like eBill open rates or how many eBills are sent before a payment is received. This can help you understand how certain factors influence patient engagement, which could be the time of day an eBill is sent or the tone of the subject line. Experimenting with the content in patient financial communications can also help you identify the most effective messaging. For example, for one Patientco client, we tested eBill content and found that adding an exclamation point to the call-to-action impacted patient payment rates by 3 percent.
Ensure your payment UX meets patients’ expectations.
Health Systems should also be mindful of the patient payment UX. In other words, how easy and intuitive is it for patients to pay their medical bills? Thanks to the growing popularity of services like Zelle, Venmo and PayPal, more consumers are comfortable using digital self-service channels to transact payments. Healthcare revenue cycle leaders should take note and implement technology that supports online and mobile self-service bill payments.
Your Health System’s UX shouldn’t feel like an obstacle for patients to overcome to complete a payment. To ensure it’s not, review how many patients are making payments and how. Track how many patients visit your website after receiving an eBill and how many of those visits resulted in a completed payment. If several patients disengage at the same step in the payment flow, that could signal a pain point you should address.
Address the obstacles that make it difficult for patients to pay their medical bills.
Additionally, consider the challenges patients could be facing outside of the payment UX. Oftentimes, it’s an affordability issue.
This issue doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem with your healthcare organization’s patient engagement methods or payment UX. However, the issue could be fixed with the right engagement tactics and some added functionalities within the UX. This may involve offering payment plans or financing options for patients with higher bill balances. To maximize adoption of these features, provide a self-enrollment function for patients. Many patients may feel embarrassed about calling a staff member for financing options, but self-enrollment can resolve that.
Or, perhaps the challenge is that the patient doesn’t understand the charges on their bill. Does your revenue cycle staff receive several calls per day from patients confused about their bill? If so, consider deploying plain-language billing descriptors and easy-to-understand statements.
Swiftly addressing the hurdles patients face related to their medical bills improves the payment experience. Likewise, this ensures your Health System can meet and surpass the rising expectations of today’s patients. This will position your organization for more patient payments and more satisfied patients. Satisfied patients mean increased patient loyalty and return visits, which translates to a more profitable bottom line.
Other industries have risen to the payments challenge – now, it’s healthcare’s turn.