The following is a guest blog post by Dave Crooks, CEO and co-founder of Easy Pay Solutions.
Traditional approaches to the healthcare revenue cycle are no longer effective. Rising deductibles and insurance costs have brought awareness to patients’ increased financial responsibilities and have led to a more informed healthcare consumer.
As a result, healthcare organizations that do not engage patients in the financial conversation are having a harder time collecting patient payments. This has led to financial uncertainty on the part of both patient and provider.
Due to these changes, a new type of healthcare consumer has emerged. This healthcare consumer is just that, a consumer. They expect upfront, honest communications about their financial responsibilities and they want to be able to make financial arrangements in the most convenient way possible. And as providers try to appeal to these consumers in the clinical setting—offering convenient access to patient’s medical records, online appointment scheduling, and preventative screening reminders—they would do well to apply the same logic to the revenue cycle, as the two have become so closely connected.
It’s time to change the way that practices, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations approach patient collections and invoke a culture of patient engagement that extends beyond the clinical setting.
Patient satisfaction, loyalty, and ultimately the financial health of providers, depends on a patient-friendly approach to revenue cycle management.
Best Practices For Patient Financial Engagement
- Start communications early and often
The care and revenue cycle should go hand-in-hand. Patients who are informed and educated about their financial responsibility are more satisfied with their overall experience, and thus more likely to pay. It’s when they get sticker shock after a visit that they lose all positive feelings for a practice. It’s essentially saying, “hey, we treated you, now pay up”. It’s off-putting no matter the industry, but especially in regards to the sensitive nature of healthcare.
So instead of sending a bill after the visit, engage patients upfront, and throughout the entire care cycle. Use tools that will help your staff estimate costs so that patients have a better idea of what they will owe. Doing so will also help your staff gauge the likelihood of payment from the patient, allowing them to better suggest payment options to fit their needs. From the patient’s perspective, a provider that works with them to accommodate their financial situation is as important as the care that they receive and can help to alleviate stress from an already stressful situation.
- Train and empower staff at all levels to promote a patient-friendly financial culture
A culture of patient financial engagement is dependent upon your staff. It must be made a priority at all levels in order to be consistent and successful. All staff, not just revenue cycle staff, need to be on board with patient engagement. To do so, they need the right tools.
Listen to questions and offer suggestions about how to approach difficult financial conversations so that there is a consistent message across the organization. Learning from these experiences will bring awareness to common patient concerns and will allow your staff to better apply patient engagement practices at all aspects of the patient care cycle.
- Simplify the patient experience wherever possible
Healthcare is complicated enough. From confusing insurance and deductibles to coding and reporting regulations, healthcare providers and patients alike are feeling the frustration. Simplifying the patient experience will benefit everyone involved.
A complex billing process is a turnoff for patients and it’s doing more harm than good for your patient collection efforts. Simplify the process by offering new technology, processes, and payment cycles that are patient-centered. Healthcare must adopt processes that put the healthcare consumer first, keeping their priorities top of mind. Other industries are already doing this with success; it’s time healthcare got on board.
Providers are struggling to collect patient payments in a time when they so desperately need them. The reason so many are unsuccessful is because they are neglecting the importance of the patient experience as a whole, from start to finish. Patient engagement must go beyond the clinical aspect of the care cycle and extend to the revenue cycle as well. This is where the opportunity lies. Start engagement early and often, and continue it throughout the patient experience for satisfied patients and a successful, sustainable patient collections culture.
About Dave Crooks
Dave Crooks is the CEO and co-founder of Easy Pay Solutions. Easy Pay was formed by two VISA employees with the simple mission of helping providers and healthcare organizations collect patient payments in a timely, cost effective, patient-friendly way.