Patients today expect more than great clinical care—they’re also demanding a straightforward billing experience. As more healthcare costs fall to patients, it’s important to consider their experience beyond the exam room. In fact, a recent Patient Payment Technology Report revealed that nearly half (45%) of healthcare consumers consider price and cost transparency as the #1 factor that would most deepen their loyalty to a specific healthcare provider. Therefore, taking steps to increase your financial transparency is a smart way to boost patient engagement, encourage faster payments, and build patient loyalty.
How your Medical Practice Can Boost Financial Transparency
1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Is your entire staff trained to answer patient questions regarding the billing process (and not just the billing office)? Whether you work with a revenue cycle management company or handle billing in-house, your front desk staff and providers should also have a baseline understanding of your RCM services, statements, and charges. It is also important to ensure your billing statements are as straightforward as possible since they are one of your key billing communication tools. Clear patient statements lead to fewer questions and faster payments. To optimize your statements, we suggest reviewing them to ensure they follow HFMA’s Patient Friendly Billing guidelines.
2. Incorporate Upfront Cost Estimation
Healthcare is one of the only industries in which consumers don’t know the price of a service before purchasing it. Fortunately, there are now highly accurate up-front cost estimation tools your practice can use to give your patients visibility into their expected out-of-pocket costs. According to Healthcare IT News, digital estimates are accurate to within 5%. By informing your patients as soon as possible about how much they are going to owe, you’ll empower them to make an informed decision about whether they want to proceed with that service. Beyond that, patients are more likely to pay when they understand their out-of-pocket costs upfront. You can provide this estimation by using your eligibility service provider’s up-front cost estimation tool, which requests insurance plan coverage details for each patient and considers the expected cost and reimbursement amount for their treatment.
3. Make Post-Visit Payments Easy
In addition to up-front cost estimation, patients want simple and convenient payment options post-visit as well. Since high-deductible health plans are now the norm, your patietns represent a significant payer segment for your practice that cannot be ignored. We suggest implementing digital patient payment tools such as electronic statements, online payment portals, payment plans, and payment reminders to streamline the process for your patients. Though patients who prefer to pay via check-by-mail will remain, many patients increasingly want options such as online payments through their mobile device. The more convenient you make the payment process, the more likely your patients will be to pay sooner. (Check out our post on bringing your patient payment options into the digital age for more tips.) Your billing staff can also utilize PCG’s convenient payment module for billing features such as easy payment by phone, and payment plans for patients with large balances. Provide peace of mind for both your patients and your practice with an agreement to pay off patient debt at their convenience.
By clearly communicating with your patients about your billing process, providing upfront cost estimation, and making post-visit patient payments easy, you will increase your practice’s financial transparency. Financial transparency, in turn, boosts patient engagement, builds patient loyalty—and most importantly for your bottom line—garners faster patient payments.