One of the biggest challenges of healthcare organizations’ revenue cycle management, whether they are smaller medical practices or larger hospital systems, is receiving payments for services rendered. Many organizations are now taking a more patient-centered approach to get patients to pay their medical bills, focusing on patient engagement.
Patient engagement is about more than just having strong customer service skills. It involves patients and providers working together to improve the patient’s health outcomes. Empowering patients to actively participate in their healthcare treatment and providing them with information has been shown to increase the likelihood that patients will pay their healthcare bills. Emerging practices that have proved effective include :
- Improving employees’ customer service skills.
- Providing information early and in simple terms.
- Giving patients options when paying their bills.
- Simplifying the billing process.
- Reminding patients regularly.
We discuss each in detail below.
Improving Employees’ Customer Service Skills
Customer service starts as soon as the patient enters the medical practice or hospital system. The front-desk staff are usually the first point of contact for patients and that engagement determines the patients’ first impression. Medical facilities are ensuring their front-desk staff are adequately trained to interact with a range of diverse patients, provide relevant billing and insurance information, and assist patients when problems arise. Their staff members are focused on being empathetic, solutions-oriented, and friendly.
Providing Information Early and In Simple Terms
Explaining billing procedures and payment options to patients on day one and avoiding the use of medical and insurance jargon has been shown to improve communication between patients and providers. Patients are able to understand in plain terms how services and treatment are billed, who would be responsible for payment, and when payment is due. Early information also reduces surprises and allows patients to plan for payment.
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Giving Patients Options When Paying Their Bills
Today, giving patients options is the key to retention and improved payment collections. Self-pay patients and those with limited access to cash benefit from different ways to pay their medical bills. Medical practices and hospital systems are improving their collections by providing patients with a variety of payment options such as:
- Payments accepted via debit or credit card and checking accounts (ACH).
- Offering patients the option to make payment arrangements.
- Giving patients the option of paying their bills online and via their mobile devices.
Simplifying The Billing Process
To make an informed decision, patients need to know what treatment and service costs are, what insurance covers, and what their personal financial obligations are. The healthcare billing process is a complex, multilevel system that many patients are not interested in. In response, many hospital systems and medical practices are simplifying the billing process for patients by using price transparency and cost estimates, providing patients with an explanation of basic insurance terms and policies, and creating easy-to-understand medical bills and invoices.
Regularly Reminding PatientsPatients have full lives and may unintentionally overlook or forget about a payment. A friendly reminder can help get patients back on track. Sending patients payment reminders on a regular basis, such as once a month, either via text, email, or mail improves patient bill payments. If you’re a health system or healthcare provider struggling to close those revenue cycle loops, we can help!