How do you know if your patient financial communications processes are on par with industry standards? To find out, compare your Health System’s processes with HFMA’s “Patient Financial Communications Best Practices” guide. This can highlight areas where your organization can improve. Or, it may validate that your current processes are aligned with industry best practices! Such an exercise is worthwhile because better patient financial communications improve financial results for Health Systems. At the same time, they help patients make informed decisions about their health care, enhancing patient satisfaction.
Today’s blog will examine a few best practices for patient financial communications. Read on to learn how you can adopt these strategies within your own Health System.
Are Your Patient Financial Communications Easy to Understand?
HFMA advises that financial communications should be understandable for patients. In addition, when developing language for patient financial discussions, providers should consider the perspective of the patient. Be mindful of the questions or concerns patients may have about their balance. Can they easily understand what their charges are for? Are they able to see insurance adjustments or prior payments on their bill balance?
To ensure your patient financial communications are easy to understand, translate medical billing codes to consumer-friendly charge explanations to help eliminate confusion. Billing codes are really hard to decipher if you don’t have a medical degree and if a patient can’t understand their bill, they probably don’t trust what they’re being charged for. For instance, “collection of venous blood by venipuncture” is much easier to understand when it’s listed as “blood draw.” Also, explicitly list any previous payments or insurance adjustments. This ensures patients understand what they owe and why they owe that amount.
Do You Verify Patients’ Contact Information?
When interacting with patients, HFMA recommends verifying patients’ contact details. This includes their mailing address, phone numbers and email. At the same time, your team should also verify the patient’s preferred method of communication. Some patients may prefer email while some may consent to receiving text notifications. By capturing these preferences, your Health System’s patient financial communications will be more effective.
Additionally, you may be surprised by how many of your patients prefer digital communications over mail. Your Health System may find it worthwhile to take a digital-first approach to patient financial communications. Using contact information like a patient’s email or mobile phone number, you can send billing statements via email or text first, without mailing a paper statement. Not only does this create a better patient experience, it also benefits your Health System. Patientco’s data shows that engaging with patients digitally helps reduce days to pay by more than 2x and will increase your online payment rates by 40%.
Do You Have Up-to-Date Information on Patient Balances?
Another piece of advice from HFMA: use technology that provides your team with up-to-date information on patients’ financial obligations. Effective patient financial communications should give patients visibility into their true account balance. Your Health System should offer a complete history of payments on patients’ accounts and ensure up-to-date balances for all in-network patient activity. However, this can be difficult to achieve without adequate HIS integrations. Instead, make sure all billing and payments are integrated in real time with your HIS, otherwise you risk limited balance visibility. This also helps ensure accuracy for future patient financial communications.
These are just a few of HFMA’s patient financial communications best practices. Check out this guide for more tips and ways your Health System can measure the effectiveness of its current communication processes. If you’re curious to learn how Patientco has helped other Health Systems, like Piedmont Healthcare improve their patient financial communications, schedule a meeting with us!