The Challenge: Overwhelmed Staff Stuck Fielding 6,000 Patient Calls Per Month

Having previously partnered with a payments vendor to help address their patient requests for an online payment option, Great River Health System found their payments portal was plagued with site navigation issues. In addition, the portal lacked self-service payment options for opting into affordable payment solutions. The result? Great River’s staff was fielding approximately 6,000 patient calls per month as patients struggled with site navigation and had to call staff to enroll in payment plans. Patients were unhappy and Great River was overwhelmed.

Great River Health System is a large, regional integrated healthcare system serving southeast Iowa as well as parts of western Illinois. The Health System treats thousands of patients annually with nearly 40% of their population on Medicare or a Medicare HMO. Great River recognized that ‒ regardless of age ‒ a significant portion of their patient population valued a modern, online and mobile-friendly billing and payment experience.

The health system realized that a change was necessary. They needed to find a solution that would provide superior digital communications, an easy-to-use patient payment portal, and self-service enrollment options for affordable payment plans.

The Solution: Partnering with an Easy-to-Use, Modern Payment Solution

After researching several payment solutions, Great River chose Patientco. Patientco’s direct integration with Great River’s Cerner EHR allowed staff and patients to have greater visibility of up-to-date balances, payments and statements. This integration simplified staff’s ability to look up a patient’s account and settle charges while automating payment posting and reconciliation. Likewise, patients could easily manage all of their household healthcare expenses through a single portal account, regardless of the Great River location where they received care.

In addition, Great River’s patients now receive easy-to-understand statements and can opt into eBills and text notifications, both of which are part of Patientco’s digital offerings. Today, Great River uses Patientco’s Digital-First Billing which allows them to initially engage with patients via email or text, without first requiring a mailed paper statement. Whether over text message or email, patients are guided to intuitive self-service tools, all through the PatientWallet®. PatientWallet is an online, mobile-friendly bill payment and communications portal. After creating a PatientWallet, patients can directly enroll in affordable monthly payment options without assistance from staff.

Great River was eager to engage more patients digitally and provide a modern billing and payment experience, so they accelerated their implementation timeline. Eight weeks after kicking off their implementation process, Great River was processing payments using the full Patientco solution. Great River was highly engaged throughout the process, driving internal timelines to make sure its operations were ready for the new system.

The Results: Accelerated Payments and Happier Patients

Today, a growing number of Great River’s patients are engaging digitally. With Patientco’s Digital-First Billing, patient payments are received 38% faster. Patients no longer have to wait for a paper statement to make a payment. By receiving eBills through their preferred communication channels, patients can easily view and pay their bill using the device of their choice. Before Patientco, only 11% of Great River’s patient payments were completed online. Following Patientco’s implementation, Great River saw an almost three-fold increase of online, self-service payments.

Additionally, patients no longer have to speak with staff during business hours to access affordable monthly payment options. Instead, they can sign up online and select from monthly payment options that are suited to their budget. This has driven increased enrollment for Great River, as patient-initiated payment plans have grown by more than 300% in the first four months of 2019. Furthermore, monthly payments for patient-initiated payment plans were 36% higher than those from provider-initiated plans for Q1 of 2019, generating more revenue, faster for the health system.

Switching to Patientco’s easy-to-understand billing communications, and implementing a suite of intuitive, self-service tools has reduced Great River’s monthly patient call volume by more than 60%. Calls related to patient payment issues dropped from 6,000 calls each month to approximately 2,000 calls per month. While staff-assisted payments declined from 44% to 22%, Great River has experienced increased patient revenue associated with self-pay accounts.

Ultimately, strong patient adoption of Great River’s new digital communication and payment tools are the result of a better patient financial experience. In fact, 95% of Great River’s patients surveyed after the billing and payment process report their experience as positive.

Client Quote

“Seeing the positive comments about our billing and payment tools has showcased just how much the patient financial experience matters and the impact it can have on patient satisfaction. We’ve simultaneously improved our staff experience. Adopting modern, consumer-friendly communication and payment technology benefits all stakeholders within the Great River Health System.”

– Shannon Leffler, Manager of Patient Financial Services & Patient Billing at Great River Health System