How can you quantify the patient financial experience? It’s a valid question we hear often. After all, measuring something as subjective and personal as an experience can be difficult to do in an objective, systematic manner. However, it’s not impossible and the initiative can pay off in a big way.
To start, Health Systems should evaluate the four metrics discussed here to equip their organizations to measure the patient financial experience, identify opportunities for improvement and track which factors impact the experience most. By quantifying the patient financial experience, Health Systems can monitor and improve the experience, which ultimately boosts both revenue and patient loyalty.
1. Patient Engagement
Analyzing patient engagement empowers Health Systems to more effectively interact with patients. However, many healthcare leaders are unsure of where to begin. Email open rates are a great place to start, as they reveal valuable insights about patient communication preferences.
For instance, are open rates highest on a certain day of the week? Does the time of day the email is sent impact open rates? Also, how many bills are sent before a payment is received? How does the balance amount impact the number of bills sent prior to payment?
Analyzing these metrics will establish a baseline measure for patient engagement, enabling your Health System to find ways to optimize financial communication channels and tailor those messages which promotes better engagement. Improved patient engagement doesn’t just imply happier patients, it also means your organization makes less attempts to collect, resulting in reduced operational costs.
2. Patient Participation
After evaluating patient engagement, Health Systems must drill deeper to understand the level of patient participation. In other words, how many patients are paying?
Consider measuring how many patients click through to your website after receiving an eBill. How many of those visits resulted in a complete payment? Where did patients tend to drop off? This helps you identify patients’ pain points within the payment process. It is important to look deeper than total patient revenue and instead, recognize how many patients are actually making payments. By measuring this, your healthcare organization can begin to gauge how effective and intuitive its patient payment options are.
For Health Systems to maximize patient revenue, they must maximize patient participation. To further drive total patient payment volume, Health Systems should consider offering flexible payment plans. This option converts participation into payment in full by making healthcare bills more affordable.
3. Self-Service Payment Metrics
Once you have a pulse on how many patients are paying, review how many self-service payments are processed compared to staff-assisted payments. According to Patientco’s Data Team, a Health System should aim for at least 78 to 80 percent in self-service payments. (We define self-service payments as a patient payment made without staff intervention.) By analyzing self-service metrics, Health Systems can identify ways to drive adoption. For instance, if a healthcare organization determines that self-service payment rates are low, they could address it by educating patients on their organization’s self-service payment options in a targeted email campaign.
Furthermore, self-service capabilities drive patient satisfaction and usage of payment tools. Do you know anyone who prefers waiting to speak with a customer service representative over using an intuitive self-service website or a mobile app? We don’t.
The Patientco data team regularly explores the “what ifs” of the patient financial experience to identify key factors that deliver higher patient satisfaction and more patient out-of-pocket payments to healthcare organizations. For example, a recent analysis revealed that presenting patients with self-service payment plans grew the number of patients utilizing payment plans by 142 percent without negatively affecting payments in full. Over time, the increase in payment plan adoption will result in more patient accounts paid in full. This, in turn, will grow overall patient collections.
4. Call Volume and Complaints
How many calls from patients does your revenue cycle staff receive each day and what are those calls about? Oftentimes, patients call due to an issue regarding a bill. Patients may be unclear about their statement balance and explanation of charges or they may be unable to pay in full. Tracking the reasons patients are calling is crucial, as it can help your organization identify trends over time and monitor the factors that influence changes in the patient financial experience.
Call volume hinges on your Health System’s ability to engage with patients and the effectiveness of its payment tools. With improved engagement and intuitive payment tools, call volume and patient complaints go down. Prioritizing plain-language billing descriptors, using easy-to-understand statements and promoting intuitive self-service payment and financing options will empower Health Systems to deliver a more positive patient financial experience and reduce patient call volumes.
The patient financial experience holds tangible value and by measuring it, Health Systems can fine-tune their billing and payments processes to not only drive more patient payments but also greater patient loyalty. Imagine, more payments today, followed with happier patients and more patient visits tomorrow. That’s a win-win if you ask us.