2 Important Questions your Patients Want Answered Today

Patients, a major player in healthcare payments want the answer to two major questions when managing their medical treatment from providers:

“What do I owe?” and “How am I going to pay?”

Providers who can build revenue cycle programs that address these questions will win every day with patients. In this article, we’ll explore why patients require transparency and how you can build a revenue cycle program that addresses these two critical questions.

Transparency: Why it Matters

As patients struggle to understand and afford their bills, it’s now apparent that they are looking to their healthcare providers to offer transparency in their payment obligations and related information.

In fact, 9 in 10 consumers want to understand their patient responsibility upfront and 94% of patients expect price transparency tools to be available from their providers.

Regulators are also pushing for more understandable healthcare billing. A new CMS rule requires publication of charges for services. And recently, Pres. Trump mandated publication of healthcare prices in an understandable, consumer-friendly format. More requirements and expectations are sure to follow.

“90% of patients do not feel obligated to stay with a healthcare provider who doesn’t deliver an overall satisfactory digital experience.”

These trends are leading healthcare leaders to rethink the way they send bills and engage with their patients. Hospitals are turning to the best of online and retail payment experiences like those offered by Amazon and others to help shape their new approach by offering easy-to-use, self-service platforms.

ospitals’ e-commerce, self-service strategies offer patient-friendly options

Leading health groups such as Kettering Health Network are using consumer-driven platforms to meet patient demand, resulting in an 87% increase in self-service payments, a 31% increase in payments from a mobile device, and a 62% decrease in call center payment volume. And innovative health systems like St Luke’s University Health Network are providing similar upfront pricing information to their patients an easy-to-use, e-Commerce website.

In a healthcare marketplace increasingly dominated by retail style competition, you ignore these market forces at your own peril. In fact, a survey found that 90% of patients do not feel obligated to stay with a healthcare provider who doesn’t deliver an overall satisfactory digital experience.

Gain a Healthy Bottom Line & Transparency

You can fulfill your patients’ transparency expectations by following three strategies to deliver a healthier bottom line and keep ahead of growing regulatory pushes.

  1. Provide clear, self-service, out-of-pocket cost information prior to scheduling. It’s critical to provide patients with an easy understanding of price without them having to call or visit a hospital before making an appointment.
  2. Engage patients with personalized payment options ahead of their visit. Many patients are willing to begin making payments ahead of a visit, especially when presented with payment options that meet their budget.
  3. Continuously seek patient feedback on their experience. Use an immediate, short and simple online feedback system tied to estimates, scheduling or payment to understand if your experience is meeting patient expectations and if there are additional areas for improvement.

Pre-service healthcare billing engages patient buy-in early

Early on in their healthcare journey, patients want to know the cost of their bills. If you engage them through pre-service before they arrive at the hospital you are empowering them to make informed decisions about their financial obligations ahead of time.

Knowing the answer to “What do I owe” lets patients plan their healthcare and encourages payments

Automated emails can clarify patient financial responsibility with personalized estimates that reflect insurance coverage. Patients can be offered budget-friendly payment options to let them view out-of-pocket estimates and make an initial payment and increase collections. Plus, embracing self-service engagement to reach more patients saves staff time and decreases costs.

AdventHealth Building
dventHealth’s pre-service encourages quick returns

AdventHealth experienced record returns by providing a consumer-oriented, self-service experience that started at pre-service. The hospital communicated with patients ahead of their appointment with a personalized cost estimate that delivered pricing transparency and enabled convenient pre-service payments. The provider was able to increase collections by capturing revenue earlier and minimize future outstanding accounts receivable.

Patient engagement rates rose, with 35% clicking through emails from the hospital and the patient net promoter score reached 45, twice the healthcare average. Per-patient pay was about $450, four times the average post-service payment.

Paying for healthcare is getting more difficult for the average consumer:

Patients as Consumers, Answer “How am I going to pay?”

The inflexibility of healthcare financials is the root cause of much of this patient distress. A study of patient bills and billions of dollars in medical payments found the ideal patient payment to be $125. This is the amount nearly all patients are comfortable and able to pay.

With hospital bills averaging thousands of dollars, the typical ten-payment plan offered by most hospitals is often twice as big – or sometimes even more – than this optimal payment size. The result is that hospitals are only recovering 30-40 cents on the dollar, leaving them in the lurch or forcing them to rely on expensive collection agencies that only hassle and anger patients in the process.

Patients vote with their wallet, rewarding providers that offer clear out-of-pocket cost information with a commitment to pay.

Consumers are now looking for the best options on how to pay for healthcare costs. They are new, empowered paying consumers, favoring their own experience as they weigh their choices. That means they will vote with their wallet, rewarding providers that offer clear out-of-pocket cost information with a commitment to pay.

In response, many leading providers are creating a revenue cycle experience that helps patients understand how they can pay, retains their loyalty, and increase collections. One technique they are employing is personalization as it has been proven to increase revenue results by creating a program that focuses on building a billing experience for each patient that is unique. Through predicative analytics, revenue cycle platforms (like Simplee) generate one-of-kind payment programs based on the patient’s data. Through personalization, patients are guaranteed a positive experience and will be twice as likely to pay their bill in full.

Partnerships Offer Options to Pay

Provider revenue cycle companies are partnering with traditional consumer financing organizations to giving patients more options based on personalization.

For instance, Simplee has joined with CareCredit to provide a non-recourse way to deliver more affordable patient payments without the provider taking on the risk. Using Simplee’s personalization algorithm, health systems can now go beyond their provider’s payment terms and deliver personalized payment plans that patients can afford.

If a patient can only afford $120 per month, Simplee’s algorithm identifies the maximum amount payable by the patient and creates a personalized option through CareCredit that works within these needs, including no interest if the bill is paid in full within 6, 12, 18 or 24-months.

Health systems using the Simplee Patient Financial Care platform realize a 15 percent net increase in payments, 50 percent reduction in operational costs, and a two times improvement in patient satisfaction.

t. Luke’s increases savings and patient payments

St. Luke’s University Health Network’s sought to offer a complete, personalized patient financial experience that leveraged technology to drive self-service adoption. The hospital network delivered a streamlined way for patients to engage in their financial experience through early email engagement without additional logins or paper statements.

As a result, St. Luke’s experienced a 76% increase in self-service payments and generated $0.9 million in annual operational cost savings. The provider was able to shift 50% of phone-based payment volume to IVR, translating into 120 fewer staff-managed calls per day. St. Luke’s achieved a Net Promoter Score of 44, double the healthcare average and on par with major consumer luxury brands.

Patient Engagement Key to Revenue Cycle Improvement

As this article makes clear, providers who address patient payment concerns early in their healthcare journey by answering the two crucial questions, “What do I owe?” and “How am I going to pay?” – win.

By offering patients a transparent, personalized, self-service approach to payments, healthcare leaders are gaining their buy-in, engagement, satisfaction, and, ultimately, experiencing increased revenue.

Rewards are immediate: a 10%+ increase in collections for the provider and 20%+ increase in patient Net Promoter Score

Throughout this article we’ve provided a number of techniques and best practices to improve your revenue cycle program. Here are three more that you can start implementing today to make a consumer-centric payment plan work for your health system.

  1. Tailor your approach – To match each patient with their right monthly payment capability, take advantage of new data analytics technologies. These leverage solutions to offer customized payment terms using data points such as payment behavior, insurance details, bill size, demographics and other attributes.
  2. Let the patients lead – Meet your patients where they are with a digital-first, self-service experience that allows them to view payment plan options online or on their smartphone, and evaluate them when convenient.
  3. Set it and forget it – When patients set up a payment plan through self-service, allow them to complete the process by putting a payment method on file to enable automatic monthly payments. Seventy-five percent of patients have already made it clear they are willing to leave a card on file for automatic payments of less than $200. By doing so, providers can experience over a 95% collection rate on automatic payment plans without the administration expense of trying to collect each month from the patient.

The strategy is simple but powerful – offer patients an automated, personalized payment plan that meets their budget. For providers that embrace this consumer-centric approach, the rewards are immediate: a 10%+ increase in collections for the provider and 20%+ increase in patient Net Promoter Score.

Simplee matches patients’ needs, starting at pre-service. As a strategic partner, we work with healthcare providers to extend care excellence through the revenue cycle. To transform your patients’ financial experience, contact Simplee today.

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