Healthcare providers are becoming increasingly aware of how patient loyalty is tied to the patient experience. They may focus on touchpoints along the patient journey such as clinical interactions and outcomes. Although these are important for patient satisfaction, another factor often is overlooked: the patient’s financial experience. Patient satisfaction is crucial for the revenue cycle.
Adopt a patient-centric billing mindset
The billing process is a make-or-break moment for healthcare providers. Think of it as the grand finale of the patient’s visit — at least, this is how your patients are likely to see it. A whopping 93% of healthcare consumers say a poor financial experience could lead them to look for a new provider. They might be happy with the service, but this alone isn’t enough to retain them.
What constitutes a poor financial experience? Above all, beyond unexpected charges or inflated costs, patients are tired of ambiguity in the bill pay process. They often receive confusing explanations about bills and benefits. Additionally, many patients review their bills and can’t determine how much they’re responsible for paying.
Today, patients want cost transparency and bills matching the up-front estimates. They desire a complete understanding of payer obligations and their own payment share.
What’s at stake for healthcare providers? Patient loyalty and the revenue that comes with it.
4 key touchpoints for patient engagement
How can healthcare providers improve patient engagement in financial and billing processes? Here’s what to consider across each key touchpoint to ensure a positive financial experience:
- Appointment scheduling. Let patients plan ahead by reminding them their payment is expected at the time of service. Work to coordinate insurance information ahead of time and make it clear you’re available to answer questions about billing and fees.
- Admission. The best time to inquire about payment and copays is at the time of admission. Previously, copays were collected at the point of service. Now, payment opportunities are moving upstream, and scheduling departments should offer to take the copayment when calling to confirm appointments.
- End of appointment. After the scheduled service has been provided, patients are expected to pay. Offer flexibility for patients by accepting a full range of payments, including cash, credit cards, checks, and contactless (smartphone) payments. Make the process as simple as possible.
- Appointment follow-up. Once insurance has paid its part, the patient share is clarified. Prioritize patient convenience by offering to take payments over the phone or setting up payment schedules.
The importance of tools, options, and personalization
To create a positive patient experience when it comes to financial concerns, providers must consider back-end improvements. Today, the classic one-size-fits-all billing process is outdated and inconvenient. Providers need to meet patients where they are. With the help of cutting-edge software solutions utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning, healthcare providers can be flexible and put the patient first.
Now, providers can offer a personalized billing experience and treat patients as discerning individuals with unique needs and varying preferences. It’s a win for everyone. Making it easier for patients improves their willingness to pay, increases the speed of payments, and — best of all — elevates patient satisfaction. It’s one essential way healthcare providers can foster patient loyalty and provide high-quality care from end to end.
Demystify the financial experience
Patient experience is at the center of modern healthcare, including billing and payments. If a patient feels lost, uncertain, or otherwise uncomfortable during their healthcare journey, they’re less likely to see it through to the end. It’s the responsibility of providers to create waypoints and stability throughout the process, all the way through billing and collections. In doing so, they increase not only patient satisfaction but also revenue and cash flow reliability.
Learn more about how to improve the patient experience at trubridge.com.