How’s it going between your revenue cycle team and your patients? Several years ago that would have been an illogical question to pose. Today it makes perfect sense.
Because patients are shouldering responsibility for larger portions of their healthcare costs, they are choosier about where they go, more demanding of the quality of their clinical care, and deeply interested in when and how they pay —and how much they pay. Never has there been such heightened interaction between the patient and the healthcare organization regarding financial matters than today.
The patient financial experience is largely uncharted territory, so to help you find a clear path, here are four ways to create a positive patient financial experience for every individual seeking care at your organization, with benefits to your bottom line as well as to your patient satisfaction scores.
EDUCATE YOUR PATIENTS about their financial responsibility
Your revenue cycle team is in a perfect position to educate the patient about his or her financial obligation. Train your patient-facing staff to use every interaction as an opportunity to answer questions, explain their benefits, help them understand the outstanding balance, and offer options for how that can be resolved.
When a patient understands his or her financial responsibility, he is more willing and likely to pay.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT STAFF for patient-facing rolesYou only need to put your patient hat on for a moment to grasp why patient-facing roles should not be entry level. For the patient, the financial aspects of an encounter with your organization are just as important as the clinical aspects. Every team member must be qualified, trained, and demonstrate proficiency before engaging with the patient in a conversation about what their insurance did or did not cover, why or why not, what the resulting patient financial responsibility is, and what the options are for resolving that amount.
It’s one thing to have “good people” in place, but without proper training on the billing details or customer service, they can hinder the overall patient experience.
USE EVERY TOUCHPOINT to move the patient toward payment
Let’s be clear. Patient collections may be the shared responsibility of your revenue cycle team members, but isn’t the singular end-goal any longer; a positive patient financial experience is. You can still achieve these simultaneously.
Estimating healthcare costs is integral to a positive patient experience, but it is also a difficult prediction for front end staff to make. While estimating technology is still in its infancy, the growing need to take away the guesswork – for both the patient and the organization – is vital.
Ask for questions (and then ask for payment)
Resolving any roadblocks first will pave the way to ask for payment. But know that this responsibility no longer belongs solely to your revenue cycle team. Ask at every encounter – scheduling, check-in/check-out, etc. – so that each patient touchpoint moves the account toward resolution without surprises, and with a positive vibe throughout.
Ask for feedback
Before each patient encounter is over, train your staff to ask: “Was I able to resolve your questions today?” If the answer is no, ask “What could I have done differently?” Remember, patients are consumers of healthcare. Show them respect. Share your knowledge. Earn their trust. These are all necessary for a positive patient financial experience.
PUT TECHNOLOGY TO USE on behalf of your patient
A positive patient financial experience depends on technology as much as it depends upon your staff knowledge and compassion.
Technologies for patient pay are designed to streamline processes and help identify places where your revenue cycle team can help create a dynamic, positive patient financial experience. Having a strong outbound calling strategy, propensity-to-pay and segmentation tools, patient-friendly statements, payment IVR, patient settlement tools and online payment portals speed along with patient transactions. When utilized to their full potential, technologies will enhance the patient financial experience by way of convenience and ease of communication.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Paying close attention to the financial aspect of the overall experience you’re creating for your patients can lead to improved patient loyalty and more revenue to your bottom line, That’s good for you and your bottom line. But it’s great for your patients.