According to Becker’s Hospital Review, customer service with regards to billing influences how patients rate their overall healthcare experiences. Many patients find billing statements difficult to comprehend, and question their accuracy so much that 40% neglect to make a payment because they do not understand their bill. Complicated billing also increases the number of patient discounts requested due to negative customer service experiences. According to a recent TransUnion Healthcare survey, 65% of respondents admitted that patient-friendly billing processes impacted their decision to choose a particular provider. It’s imperative for practices to promote customer satisfaction as part of revenue cycle management. Fortunately, empowering staff members and utilizing innovative technologies can help doctors implement collection procedures that ensure positive experiences for patients.
[INFOGRAPHIC] Considerations For Choosing An RCM Partner
Quality Customer Service Fosters Patient Engagement
Customer service has been an oft-neglected sphere of the healthcare industry because insurance companies once provided the majority of revenue. A RightNow Survey points to a positive customer service experience as the primary reason for customer loyalty. Providers should adopt customer service models that empower patients.
Two strategies help to ensure patient satisfaction in the billing department. One tactic requires that providers create a customer service model that’s in line with consumer expectations. Practices are advised to manage collections according to a retail model. Bills must be clear and easily-understood, reflecting transparency in how costs are calculated. Staff members need to respond to patients’ questions and concerns in the most timely manner possible, explaining up-front how the collections process is conducted. Employees should manage collections to the point that physicians do not have to oversee the process, optimizing the quality of care they’re able to provide.
For smaller practices, it may not be realistic to hire a considerable number of employees whose primary responsibility is to monitor payment collection. Fortunately, providers can improve in-person customer service while incorporating technology solutions as part of the second strategy, empowering patients to take responsibility.
Some health groups have established methods by which patients can pay over the phone and use text messaging and voice-activated technologies to access information and payment options. Automated systems allow patients to easily honor their financial obligations.
Patient Portal Pointers
Likewise, patients appreciate versatile collection systems. The New York Health Collaborative conducted a competition to determine portal features that support best practices, which center on two components; simplicity and ease-of-use.
Portals with stripped-down intuitive interfaces contain the most important patient information within large-button icons. Information is secure but still easily accessible. Not surprisingly, the most successful portals allow for use on a variety of devices (mobile, laptop, tablet).
Time Is Money
Using streamlined, integrated data systems makes it easier for providers to keep track of patient account balances and send regular automated reminders. Patients can use technology to view their bill and make immediate payments, which usually produces better results than sending follow-up letters in the mail.
Providers can use advanced claim-tracking to properly credit patient accounts in a timely fashion. Patients appreciate this and are encouraged to remain with the provider.
With increasing numbers of patients enrolling in HDHPs, you may be faced with the prospect of overhauling your collections department. While revamping billing can seem overwhelming, you can outline a step-by-step strategy, collaborating with staff, to ease the transition. Employing the right technology further facilitates necessary changes that will ultimately improve revenue management and patient satisfaction.