Delivering Compassionate Patient Financial Care:

Patients are responsible for a greater portion of their healthcare expenses today compared to 10 years ago. Meanwhile, health system executives are tasked with meeting aggressive financial goals, which hinges on successfully collecting patient payments. To meet those goals, some organizations use aggressive financial policies, like suing patients for bad debt. However, health systems must adapt to the “patient as payer” model by empowering compassionate patient financial care. By doing so, your organization can deliver better patient financial care with improved revenue cycle outcomes.

This white paper will outline how your health system can achieve this by:

  • Checking your culture;
  • Monitoring the right metrics; and
  • Empowering your team with better technology.

1. Check Your Culture

To start, examine your organization’s culture and ask yourself if it fosters compassion toward patients, even during the billing process after patients receive care. Culture starts from leadership and influences employees across your enterprise. If leadership’s focus is achieving their financial goals at all costs, that attitude will be absorbed by everyone, including the customer service teams that interact with patients.

Instead, establish a culture that’s focused on compassionate collections and the value of great customer service, which leads to a superior patient experience. From there, make sure your health system’s financial policies and incentives are aligned with your culture. If your health system’s mission is to ensure access to quality care and improve the health of your community, your financial policies should embody that as well. Consider the community your organization serves to be your shareholders. It’s important to remember there’s a patient behind every balance.

2. Look at the Right Metrics

Outline the right key performance indicators (KPIs), which should include both leading and lagging indicators. Leading indicators are metrics that your team can assess earlier in the revenue cycle. When health systems monitor leading indicators, team members can address problems sooner. This means patients’ concerns are also addressed sooner.

Examples of Leading Metrics:

Compassionate Patient Financial Care

In addition to leading indicators, health system executives should analyze lagging indicators, which include traditionally measured KPIs, like cost to collect. 

Examples of Lagging Metrics:

  • Cash collection as a percentage of net patient service revenue
  • Cost to collect
  • Percent of aged A/R that’s exceeded 90 days
  • Patient Net Promoter Score (NPS) or HCAHPS “would recommend” score

Understand Where There is Room for Improvement

Many of these leading and lagging metrics also align with HFMA’s Consumerism Maturity Model, which helps organizations understand where they can enhance their patient financial experience.

For example, the Maturity Model advises that health systems provide a price estimate and allow patients to make a payment at least 5 days before the scheduled visit. If a payment cannot be made, the patient’s account is flagged for financial counseling or their treatment is scheduled for a later date. Other suggestions include: offering payment plans that patients can enroll in themselves; acknowledging patient inquiries and responding in a timely manner; tracking patient feedback to identify areas of improvement; and more.

A balance of leading and lagging indicators makes your team less reactive and more proactive when addressing problems that impact the patient financial experience. When health systems focus on improving these metrics, patients get the information they need to navigate and follow through on any financial obligations associated with their clinical care.

3. Ensure Your Technology Stack Helps You Reach Targeted KPIs

Now you know which metrics your team should track, but what technology does your team need to achieve its target KPIs? The answer depends on the team and what role they play in the patient financial experience.

For patient access teams, they need tools that support better financial care prior to a patient’s scheduled service. To start, leverage technology that allows your team to scale the creation of price estimates for patients. Oftentimes, few patients receive an estimate because patient access employees lack the bandwidth for sharing estimates with patients before their scheduled date of service. Your health system needs technology that can automate the generation of price estimates for high-volume, low-complexity procedures. This ensures more patients receive a price estimate prior to care.