Your patients asked for it. You listened and took action. Now what?
Adding convenient payment technology solutions to your self pay arsenal like inbound payment IVR, statement reminders by text message, and mobile applications are relatively new to the healthcare space, but imperative to staying current in an era where technology reigns supreme.
Previously, we’ve talked about the benefits to your organization and patients that can be obtained by investing and implementing an Inbound Payment Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system -- payments can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year from a mobile or landline phone in English and/or another language. There is no hold time and patients do not have to speak with a representative to complete a transaction.
The importance of customer focused innovations in your healthcare organization is a key component to achieving revenue goals, but it’s only step one. After the technology is in place you have to work on spreading the word to your patient population. Otherwise, it’s like throwing a party but not sending out any invitations.
Here are three key questions to ask (and their answers) for successfully promoting your payment IVR.
Do your patients know you have it?
So, you implemented a Payment IVR, but there is not a noticeable increase in collections. Bummer. Patients want to pay their bill by using the IVR, but they may not know that they can.
An easy way to promote your services is to add an insert along with each statement sent or highlighting it in your statement design. This insert lists the different options available to make payments and explains step by step how to use the Payment IVR system.
Sending the insert with each statement ensures that your patients know about the IVR. Also, it is recommended to list all payment options and technologies on your organization’s website to cater to your patient population and their unique preferences.
Do your patients know how to use it?
Patients are familiar with the technology, whether they use a similar IVR to pay a cell phone bill or electric bill, but each payment IVR is a little bit different. There may be compliance policies within your organization that necessitate a two-step validation system. Sometimes a guarantor calling in using the IVR may input his/her date of birth, rather than the patient’s and run into trouble. There can be hiccups in the process, so listing out the steps, input formats and types of credit cards your organization accepts on an insert clearly outlines exactly what is needed to complete the transaction. An often overlooked aspect of the promotion of payment IVR is to train your customer service representatives to inform each patient about what is available and also to know how to troubleshoot and answer questions when patients do call in to the business office with questions or concerns about making a payment.
What kind of results can you expect if you promote your IVR?
If the payment IVR is the party and the explanatory insert is the invitation -- and if each patient (invitee) clearly understands what is required to attend the party -- then the amount of cash collected by the payment IVR (party) is how we measure the overall success rate of the entire operation.
When MediRevv implemented the IVR with our clients, we intended to enclose the IVR insert for the first three months in order to familiarize the patients with the options. We saw a great amount of success with the IVR for our clients, and then stopped sending the insert. The payments made through the IVR dropped over 25% in the few months that the insert was not included. We recognized the importance of continuing to promote the payment IVR along with all of our payment options and reintroduced the insert mid-month. Payments immediately increased by about 50% month over month. The average difference in payment IVR collection between the months when the insert was not included versus the months when it was included was an increase of 51.2%. Now, that’s a happening party.
The Bottom Line
Payment IVR technology is a win/win scenario for your patients who enjoy the ease and convenience of making their payments when and how they choose. Your organization saves time and resources by offering automated technologies that can be accessed 24/7. The key differentiator is promoting these options to increase awareness, and educate patients on exactly what is required in order to use it. Although there are probably many more thrilling party themes besides ‘inbound payment IVRs’, increased revenue is certainly a reason to celebrate. By using the simple, cost effective solution of including instructions with each patient statement the results show where the party is.