The key takeaways from Kaufman Hall’s annual 2018 State of Consumerism in Healthcare report are that healthcare executives are investing in consumer initiatives but lack innovative approaches, foundation of insights, or real analytics for success.
For example, only 28% of provider organizations are investing in customer-friendly statements currently. In the Kaufman Hall report, the survey revealed providers are emphasizing consumer-focused strategies, but it’s taking a long time to bridge the gap.
Here is one step forward that will bring the heat to your healthcare organization (literally).
Heat maps provide a slick analytics tool which allows the viewer to understand complex data sets immediately and visually. When applied to patient billing statements, heat mapping offers understanding of how different patients are visually processing the statements sent.
Statement design and statement composition have a enormous impact on when and how your patients pay. Psychologically, and through dynamic messaging, statements drive patients to complete desired actions. Because of this, it’s actually easier than you may think to increase the value of your statements.
Getting Warmer with Patient Statements
Not all patients view a statement the same way. The above heat map of a sample statement shows the process of how a patient will view his or her statement through color differentiation. The red and yellow spots — where the human eye is drawn to first — should convey the most critical pieces of statement information, messaged in a way that drives the patient to act.
Who is the bill from?
This information is clearly displayed on the envelope and it is important use your organization's logo and branding to be instantly recognizable. In this day and age, USPS mail is often overlooked, as most industries send eStatements, and auto-pay for billing is commonplace. (Note: healthcare is changing to get to that point, but currently patient statements are the first post-visit contact the patient will have with the organization — second if the EOB comes first.)
What is the amount due?
As soon as the patient recognizes that they’ve received a bill, they may peek inside to see what it is for and how much they owe. Making the information the first thing they can see when the envelope is opened from a human psychology standpoint provides a sense of transparency to the patient— also known as present the bottom line up front.
How do I pay?
When the patient see the total owed, they may experience a sense of relief, or question why they owe the balance. The clearer and more concise the bill is, the more likely the patient will accept the amount due and skip to looking for how they can pay it. This is why on the statement you want to provide multiple options for ease of patient preference and payment convenience.
By when do I need to pay?
The due date is the last critical piece information that the eye is drawn to. The patient will establish what they owe and how to pay it, and then logically wonder how long until it’s due in full. If the balance seems too high to pay in full the patient will wonder if they have payment plan and other payment options.
Analytics Provide Opportunities to Assess and Improve
Heat mapping can be a key differentiation in the personalization and statement design process. With the heat mapping research, it is possible to focus on how the human eye processes graphical messages so you can tailor them to your advantage.
Because of a notable reduction in the average number of statement cycles, reduction in average number of pages per statement, and less billing related calls, it has resulted an average of:
- 250% increase in online payments
- 10% increase in overall payments
- 10% decrease in billing costs
With the above results it’s clear that making these relatively easy changes to patient statements is the way to get started when you do not know how or to quickly bridge that gap for provider organizations wanting better patient pay performance.
Dynamic Messaging and Personalized Campaigns
With a clear patient statement, more information can be conveyed in less space. For example, sparing use of color, eliminating jargon within the text, a clear data summary, and just enough supporting details so there isn’t as much confusion over comprehensive care for you patients, creates efficiency in the billing process and satisfaction for patients. Varying the messaging between the balance the patient owes and where they land in the statement cycle results in more customized statements.
Pittsburgh-based UPMC revamped their patient communications making them consumer-driven and modeled after the service that customers expect from retail-related businesses. UPMC began the process by redesigning statements and implementing psychological research with the heat mapping. The key to their patient engagement strategy was to categorize patients based on factors such as payment plan status, technology adoption, balance, and past-due account status.
UPMC used the information known about each patient to dynamically vary the messaging on the statement. Patients who have low balance accounts received messaging promoting quick pay options, and high balance or patients with aging balances received reminder statements about setting up no-interest payment plans.
From survey results, UPMC received a 95% satisfaction score from patients regarding their payment experience, increased online payments by 52% and their mobile payment rate is 21%. UPMC also saved 8% or approximately $250,000 annually in print production costs.
The Bottom Line
Is your organization on track for meeting consumer healthcare expectations? 90% of major healthcare organizations say that improving the consumer experience is top priority, and patients think healthcare affordability is a top concern. If you do not have a vision of how to marry what your healthcare leaders are striving toward and giving patients a satisfying care and billing experience, then this could be the best first step.
Simply, it’s time to invest in the resources available to create patient friendly statements which will delight your patients, increase your revenue and decrease your resource costs. That’s a win-win that begins to draw you closer to a broader, more comprehensive strategy. We have seen this first step lead to offering online bill pay, Payment IVR, eStatements, patient portals, and more.
It’s time to bring on the heat and give your patient pay program the opportunity to substantially increase the financial experience, while increasing the likelihood of payment.