Have you ever heard the expression, “Life imitates art imitates life?” Like the classic chicken-and-egg conundrum, it’s hard to know what came first. The same can be said for the complex, symbiotic relationship between patient payments and patient experience.
Patients who have a positive experience are more likely to pay their bills. Patients with access to simple payment processing have a more positive experience. And around and around it goes.
A symbiotic relationship
Patient experience and patient payments are closely intertwined. To ensure high satisfaction levels and collect more payments, it’s critical to make the financial experience itself a positive one. Here are three ways to improve the patient experience through a superior financial journey:
- Offer flexible payment methods. There are a number of tools today that improve the patient experience, from scheduling visits to automating the check-in process. This level of convenience is not as common from a financial perspective. Healthcare organizations have the opportunity to help patients understand how much they owe and make it easy for them to pay outstanding balances. Providing patients with several ways to pay — whether by cash, check, payment plan, or debit/credit card and in the office, online, over the phone or by mail — improves the patient experience and boosts payment collection rates.
- Communicate with patients regularly. Offering convenient payment methods is only effective if patients are aware they exist. It’s important to highlight self-service payment options and communicate the financial process with clarity and transparency. At each stage of an episode of care, providers should remind patients they have the ability to manage, track and pay their expenses both offline and online. Providers can also call out these options on patient statements and on their own website.
- Use a comprehensive, single solution. Revenue cycle management vendors are not the same as payment processing vendors. A single, qualified partner should handle patient payments and the patient data that accompanies those transactions. A single solution streamlines billing and communication processes, and it gives providers the ability to use data to optimize the process for an even greater experience.
The payment process is often the last touch-point that patients have with their providers, so it’s important to make it a positive one. Improving the patient experience at each stage of care, including the patient payment process after discharge, will result in happier patients and more payments.
But really, what came first – the chicken or the egg?