Chris Jayne, Patientco’s VP of Customer Success presented a webinar for GA HFMA yesterday on the patient billing experience. As someone who works with Health Systems on improving the patient billing experience each day, Chris had some excellent tips to share. Just in case you missed the webinar, we’re covering the key takeaways in today’s blog!
What Influences the Patient Billing Experience?
To start, let’s look at the current patient billing experience and what today’s patients expect when it comes to engaging with their healthcare provider. For one, patients want to engage digitally and they have the tools to do so. Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous among young adults, as 96% of 18- to 29-year-olds own a smartphone, according to Pew Research. However, this trend isn’t exclusive to young adults. Nearly 80% of Americans ages 50 to 64 are now smartphone owners. Growing adoption of smartphones and other digital tools should inform how Health Systems engage patients.
Not only do patients want digital communication, they also want personalized communication. Patientco’s latest survey of patients and providers revealed that most patients trust communication when it is tailored to them. For a better patient billing experience, Chris recommends that Health Systems engage patients in a digital and personalized way. He also discussed two major pain points in the patient billing experience: affordability concerns and confusing statements. We all know a majority of Americans have received an unaffordable healthcare bill and oftentimes, patients aren’t even sure how to decipher the charges on those bills. Leaving these issues unaddressed can result in a subpar patient billing experience. So, what can Health Systems do?
4 Metrics to Evaluate the Patient Billing Experience
First and foremost, Health Systems should quantify their current patient billing experience. In other words, how well are your current billing and payment processes working and is there room for improvement? The only way to know for sure is by measuring. Chris recommends evaluating four metrics to start. These metrics include:
- Patient engagement
- Payment outcomes from personalization
- Adoption of affordable payment options
- Call volume and complaints
1. Measuring Patient Engagement
Analyzing patient engagement empowers Health Systems to more effectively interact with patients. Digital communication methods like email make it possible to analyze engagement. However, many healthcare leaders are unsure of where to begin. Email open rates are a great place to start, as they reveal valuable insights about patient communication preferences. For instance, are open rates highest on a certain day of the week? Does the time of day the email is sent impact open rates? Analyzing these metrics enables your Health System to optimize financial communication to patients and tailor those messages to their preferred channels, which promotes better engagement. Plus, patients are more likely to trust messages that are personalized to them. Improved patient engagement doesn’t just imply happier patients, it also means your organization makes less attempts to collect, resulting in reduced operational costs. See, a better patient billing experience benefits everyone!
2. Analyzing Payment Outcomes from Personalization
The next metric Health Systems should measure is payment outcomes from personalization. For instance, how many patients pay after receiving personalized communication with tailored payment options? Go beyond analyzing total patient revenue and instead, recognize how many patients are actually making payments. By measuring this, your healthcare organization can begin to gauge how effective and intuitive its patient payment options are.
3. Measuring Adoption of Affordable Payment Options
Also, consider offering tailored financing options and self-service payment plans. This ensures patients can afford their healthcare bill and increases the likelihood that the healthcare organization will receive payment. If your Health System already supports these flexible payment options, track how many patients enroll in these offers. This is the third metric Health Systems should measure: patient adoption of affordable payment options. As Chris mentioned earlier, affordability is a top concern during the patient billing experience. If adoption is low, your Health System may need to re-think how patients are being enrolled. Or, you may need to adjust your Health System’s parameters for which patients or bill balance amounts receive flexible payment options. Perhaps some patients who need payment plan options are not offered plan options that fit their budget.
4. Tracking Call Volumes & Complaints
The last metric that Health Systems can measure to improve the patient billing experience is call volume and complaints. Here’s why: analyzing patient call volumes and call reasons can identify improvement opportunities. In fact, this helped Great River Health System create a better patient billing experience. Before Patientco, patients were calling staff because the Health System’s online bill pay site was having navigation issues. Patients were also calling staff to enroll in flexible payment options. This meant Great River’s staff was fielding approximately 6,000 patient calls per month. Now with Patientco’s easy-to-understand billing communication and self-service payment tools, Great River has reduced its monthly patient call volume by 60%. Patients are happier and as a result, so are staff!
Check Out Our Upcoming Webinars
If you’d like to watch Chris’s presentation on demand, check it out on HFMA’s website. For more tips on delivering a better patient billing experience, register for our other upcoming GA HFMA webinars.
On Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. ET, Patientco, will explain how healthcare leaders can begin using data to boost patient financial engagement, increase payments and grow patient loyalty. Then, on Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. ET, Chris will be back – this time exploring the various changes Health Systems can make to satisfy consumer demands. Click the links to register for these free webinars – don’t miss out!