Patient out-of-pocket is rapidly growing. In fact, hospital revenue from patient financial responsibility increased 88 percent between 2012 and 2017. In this climate, it’s essential that every health system focuses on boosting patient payments.

There are a lot of ways to address this challenge, but what is the ‘right’ way? Good news, we’ve got you covered! Here are six tactics you can use to revamp your patient financial experience:

1. Meet Patients Where They Are

If your health system doesn’t embrace self-service digital payments, it will be left behind.

According to a Pew Research study, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and 88 percent of Americans use the internet. Additionally, people over the age of 50 had the largest increase in smartphone adoption.

Not only do U.S. consumers use digital platforms, but they also increasingly demand digital payment tools. Today, most patients expect to be able to pay their bills online and via smartphones.

Data shows that over 30 percent of patient payment dollars come from digital channels. To ensure you tap into these essential dollars, embrace and promote a state-of-the-art digital patient payment experience.

2. Improve Patient Communication

Utilize smart technology that monitors patient engagement to communicate more effectively and improve the patient financial experience.

Leveraging user preferences and behavioral data allows Health Systems to communicate with patients via their preferred communication channels for a more personalized financial experience. Furthermore, Health Systems should tailor messages for each individual patient. Automated technology can help.

This personalization is worth it: Delivering superior patient financial communications can increase patient payments by as much as 25 percent!

3. Offer A Consumer-Friendly Experience

We’re in an age of empowered consumers. Amazon’s customer experience has changed the game, even in healthcare.

Now, patients expect a seamless payment process and an overall frictionless customer experience. An intuitively designed, uniform billing experience is essential.

Furthermore, consumers expect real-time visibility into their account balances. Offering them access to complete, up-to-date payment activity history meets the consumer expectations, resulting in a better payment experience for patients.

4. Automate Patient Payments

Patients want self-service payment plans. Patientco data reveals that patients make more partial payments than payments in full when their bill balance is over $400. However, the key to a successful self-service payment plan strategy is automation.

When offering payment plans, use a secure payment method on file to automatically draft payments on a short-term, recurring basis. It’s a win-win: This automation makes paying bills convenient for patients and also drives higher payment rates.

Your operational process, including posting and reconciliation, should also be automated. Streamlining the posting and reconciliation process minimizes the manual effort of collecting patient payments, drives operational efficiency, and streamlines revenue cycle management.

5. Expand Patient Financial Access

Convenience is key. When you make it easier for patients to pay their healthcare bills, they will pay you more. Expanding self-service access to payment methods, flexible payment options, and tailored financing solutions makes healthcare more affordable for patients.

For example, payment plans increase collection rates and establish patients’ commitment to pay. Patientco data reveals that giving patients access to payment plans decreased a health system’s average days to pay by 12.8% (almost three full days).

Leading Health Systems should also offer financing to help ensure patients can pay their bills. This is a worthy strategy and holds the promise of increasing net collections, decreasing reliance on collection agencies, and improving patient experience.

Data shows that many patients are willing to meet their financial responsibilities, but simply lack the means or payment options to do so. Giving these patients tools that make their healthcare more affordable drives more patient payments and delivers a better patient financial experience.

6. Focus on Data

In order to influence patient payment behavior, you must first truly understand your patients. Once a health system recognizes a patient’s unique financial circumstance and preferences, it can tailor communications and financial offers to meet the patient’s individual needs. Tailoring the financial experience increases the likelihood of payment and results in higher patient satisfaction. For example, analytics can inform a health system about a patient’s implied communication preferences, such as the time of month, time of day, or method of payment that drives the highest payment rates for an individual patient.

We’re in the age of data. Access to patient payment data will only grow! Additionally, there is increasing adoption of artificial intelligence. The sooner you are able to leverage your data to derive actionable insights and design experiments to explore improvement opportunities, the better.

While critical, many of these tips may not seem simple. If that’s the case, we’d love to help! We actively leverage data to continuously improve the patient financial experience and drive better outcomes for health systems.