How to Run a Successful Patient Self Pay Program
The well regarded restaurant Le Cirque at the Bellagio in Las Vegas offers incredible French cuisine, and every aspect of the service experience has been perfected with a specific and unique skill set. The wait staff never bothers you during a meal, yet the moment you need something, a member of their team is there, already having anticipated your need. If you aspire for an equivalent, high touch patient pay program, perhaps an approach similar to Le Cirque’s will work.
Most healthcare organizations understand the importance of self pay tools and technology such as propensity to pay, but where some fall short is in understanding the need to build a specific workflow around these tools. Similar to the best service experiences in other industries, creating an intelligent workflow means orchestrating the right service touch for the right patient at the right time. By providing accurate, timely information and making it accessible to patients, self pay accounts can skillfully and succinctly move from non-paying status to paying status.
From large health systems to physician groups, there is often a wide demographic of patients. These patients have different behaviors regarding how and when – and even if – they will pay.
Considering this diverse pool of patients, the key to a successful patient pay program is not necessarily reaching out more often or even prioritizing high balances. It’s making pertinent healthcare care information available in a variety of mediums through a diverse technology tool set like mobile text apps, online payment portals, and Inbound Payment IVR. Similar to Le Cirque, it is anticipating and delivering on that need at the moment and in the way the patient desires.
But how do you know which patients to reach first? How best to reach them, or whether to reach them at all? Segmentation technology sorts accounts based on aggregate consumer data and categorizes patients by likelihood to pay and the balance amount due, which can correlate precisely with your intelligent workflow leading seamlessly to connection tools such as your outbound calling strategy.
Keep in mind there is much more to this process than relying on the technology. It’s important to understand exactly how each patient responds to contact in terms of what patients like —or don’t like.
We’ve explained three different types of patient personas based on how and when they are likely to pay below:
THE SELF-SERVICE PATIENT
This patient responds best to automatic payment solutions like online statement access, a patient portal to pay their bill, mobile applications, and a payment IVR hotline. There’s no reason to allocate precious resources to contact the patient, as they will pay on time regardless. In fact, calling a patient interested in self-service may only serve to frustrate them, diminishing their overall experience and creating dissatisfaction.
THE PATIENT PATIENT
The patient patient likely will not proactively pay their bill, and usually waits until they receive a reminder in some form. The type of gentle nudge that impacts the patient patient may be a direct call, a mailed statement or even a mobile alert. Dedicating the most follow-up resources to the patient patient can yield tremendous results in both increased cash as well as cash acceleration.
THE UNRECEPTIVE PATIENT
At the opposite end of the patient demographic spectrum of the self-service patient persona, the unreceptive patient in most cases will not pay their bill. Regardless of attempts to engage patients of this type, they are unwilling or unable to pay their bill. It is worth noting that the unreceptive patient may be easily identified through available demographics, as this persona perhaps does not have a fixed address or phone number. Engaging these patients through costly technology or valuable team members is often a poor investment of resources, regardless of the size of the balance.
The unreceptive patient may qualify for financial assistance, or a charity care write-off. Using a presumptive charity scoring system, this conclusion can be obtained from the outset and applied to the account prior to making patient contact efforts.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There are numerous self pay tools and technologies that your organization can implement to improve your patient collection rate along with improving your patient’s overall experience with your organization. Just like the frequency and timing of service during a fine dining experience, specific workflows built around various patient pay technologies will maximize the potential for payment and keep patients engaged.