After receiving care from a Health System, the patient journey is over, right? Wrong. Following care, the patient financial journey begins. This is an important aspect of the patient experience, influencing how satisfied the patient is with their Health System.
To ensure patients remain satisfied after receiving care, Health Systems must deliver six things that patients want in the financial experience. In this blog, we’ll outline those six demands, which we identified after surveying over 200 patients. By understanding exactly what patients want, your Health System can meet and exceed patient expectations.
1) Pre-Service Communication about Costs & Payment Options
The healthcare industry is starting to prioritize greater price transparency earlier in the patient financial journey. In our survey, 99 percent of patients said that pre-service communication about costs and payment options were important to them. To deliver this, providers need to invest in estimator tools. Being able to provide a cost estimate prior to care helps reduce the number of patients who receive bills that are higher than expected. Use an estimator in conjunction with flexible payment options. Doing so means patients can trust that their bill balance is correct and that they will have a payment option they can afford.
2) Digital, Preference-Based Communications
Patients want digital communication. Our survey reinforces this, revealing that most patients prefer to receive emails over other forms of communication. Still, some patients may say they prefer a certain method of communication, but their behavior may imply otherwise. For example, if a patient opts in to receive eBills, but then they never open those emails, their behavior implies that they need a follow up paper statement. Technology that monitors open rates and triggers an action if the email is never opened can make a huge impact.
3) Consumer-Friendly Billing Language
Billing codes are tough to decipher without a medical degree and this can negatively impact the patient financial journey. Understanding a charge like “collection of venous blood by venipuncture” is a lot easier when it’s coded simply as, “blood draw.” Translate confusing billing terms into consumer-friendly, plain language and your patients will thank you. When a patient understands the charges on their statement, they can trust that their bill is correct and are more likely to pay the balance. Meanwhile, your staff will also appreciate this, as our survey determined that 30 percent of patient calls to providers stem from confusing billing terms.
4) Suite of Self-Service Payment Options
Make the patient financial journey more convenient with digital, self-service payment tools. Nearly three-quarters of the patients we surveyed want to be able to manage and pay healthcare bills online. This can help generate more revenue for your Health System, too. More than a quarter of patients pay outside of business hours, according to Patientco data. Health Systems could miss out on those dollars without self-service payment options that are available 24/7.
5) Flexible Payment Options with Digital Enrollment
Likewise, patients want flexible payment options that are also self-service. Staff usually have to assist patients with enrolling in payment plans, financing and scheduling future payments. Patients have to speak with someone in the hospital business office to sign up. However, it can be embarrassing to admit they need help paying their bill. Instead, providers should allow patients to sign up for flexible payment options online. After all, it’s what nearly 70 percent of patients want.
6) A Personalized Experience Makes the Patient Financial Journey Memorable
Lastly, patients have tailored clinical experiences. They deserve a tailored billing experience as well. For a tailored patient financial journey, consider how your Health System communicates to each patient and which payment options are offered. For instance, say a patient makes a partial payment on a bill but doesn’t enroll in a payment plan. The provider has the opportunity to offer payment plan or financing options with messaging that’s tailored to that patient’s current bill balance.
In short, today’s consumers expect personalized experiences with easy-to-use, self-service technology. Pairing the awesome service your Health System staff provides with intuitive digital tools ensures an experience in line with what today’s consumers expect. We hope you can apply these insights at your own Health System to deliver a superior patient financial experience and as a result, improve the health of your revenue cycle.
If you want to learn more about this topic, check out our webinar, “6 Elements of the Patient Financial Experience that Matter (& 1 that Doesn’t).”