To improve patient financial engagement, your Health System must use data differently. What do we mean by that? Today’s blog will explain, but register for our next GA HFMA webinar on Tues., Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. ET for more exclusive perspectives from patients on their engagement preferences. Shirley Leong, Patientco’s Director of Product will present, “5 Steps to Better Patient Financial Engagement, Backed by Data” – be sure to tune in! In the meantime, consider this blog a sneak preview to Shirley’s webinar.

At Patientco, we believe there are five best practices that lead to better patient financial engagement. We’ll dive into each of these best practices shortly.

  1. Embrace digital.
  2. Optimize communication.
  3. Build for insights.
  4. Segment for success.
  5. Real-time reports add value.

1. Embrace Digital to Improve Patient Financial Engagement

Today’s patients want digital communication and payment tools. Our data proves it, too. Patientco recently surveyed over 350 patients to understand how they prefer to receive communication from their providers. More than 70% stated they prefer digital communication over phone or mail. Compare that to the 6% of patients who would prefer phone calls. Clearly, patients have embraced digital communication and they want their providers to embrace it as well. You might be thinking this only applies to patients under a certain age, but that’s actually not true. Research from Pew shows that nearly 80% of Americans age 50-64 are now smartphone owners. This is aligned with what we see at Patientco. We have many PatientWallet users who are over the age of 70!

2. Communication Matters, So Optimize It

Patient financial engagement that translates to patient payment outcomes relies on effective communication. By effective communication, we mean messages should be delivered, opened and acted upon in a timely manner. To maximize deliverability, make sure your Health System optimizes for send times. For instance, with eBills, analyze open rates based on the day the eBill is sent. Do eBills sent on a certain day of the week see higher open rates? What about the time of day? Do certain patients tend to open their emails after 3 p.m.? Based on when open rates are highest, consider sending future communications at that time for optimal delivery and engagement.

Likewise, this concept applies to the content of the subject line. You can test different subject lines and see which ones perform better. We tried this experiment at Patientco and found that including an exclamation point in the subject line of a message about payment plan options had a noticeable impact on open rates.

3. Build for Insights

Analyzing patient financial engagement to improve future communication can be done manually, but it’s much more effective when it’s automated. This is where machine learning comes into play.

Here’s how – by running multiple experiments, you can identify which factors impact revenue cycle outcomes, such as how you engage patients during the billing process and how that affects payment rates. These experiments test how changes to those activities impact your Health System’s bottom line. Based on the outcomes of those experiments, i.e. the data generated, machine learning can automatically adjust and optimize patient financial engagement accordingly. As a result, those patients that opened their eBills on Wed. afternoon can automatically receive future communications at the same time! 

4. Segment for Success

Patients receive personalized clinical care and they should receive personalized financial care, too. Health System data, like bill amount and number of bills received, plus demographic information and patient behavior allows for tailored payment options. This ensures each patient has a payment option that fits their needs. For example, for lower bill balances and patients with low ability to pay, we recommend offering short-term automated payment plans. Meanwhile, for larger bill balances, longer-term financing options are best.

5. Add Value with Real-Time Reports

Get payment performance reports when and where you need them because data is only useful if you act on it. With greater visibility of patient payments, revenue cycle leaders can more easily identify opportunities for improvement and execute on those opportunities. For example, one of our clients started out with a 60% self-service patient payment rate. Patientco’s performance reports made them realize this was an opportunity to improve. As a result, they consistently see +85% self-service payment rates today.

Get more best practices and find out what today’s patients are asking for when it comes to communication in our upcoming GA HFMA webinar on Sept. 17. Register here!