High-deductible health plans are the new normal, payer reimbursement is decreasing, and patients are responsible for a higher portion of their healthcare bills than ever before. This trend means that offering a seamless patient payment experience is crucial to your practice’s financial health. Increasingly, patients are demanding digital options to handle their healthcare bills, so much so that a 2019 survey by Healthcare Finance News found that 41% of patients surveyed would stop going to their healthcare provider over a poor experience with online bill pay. Is your practice evolving with patient demand? We’ve rounded up 3 top ways to help integrate digital tools into your patient collections process.
- Switch from Paper Statements to e-Statements
According to a Becker’s Hospital CFO Report, practices send an average of 3.3 statements before receiving the first payment for an outstanding medical bill. Considering the rising costs of printing, postage, and staff time, the cost of each statement adds up quickly. By switching from paper statements to e-statements you immediately reduce your overhead cost per statement and, more importantly, place your payment request directly in view of your patient. Research shows that patients are more likely to immediately pay a bill if they receive it via text or email. When possible, these electronic statement notifications should contain a direct link to the online payment handler for your practice so that patients can conveniently pay the amount due.
- Offer Self-Service Payment Tools
Most patients today want easy access to online bill pay via an intuitive payment portal. The key to effective self-service payment tools is to ensure your patients know about them and can use them easily. When setting up a patient payment portal, ensure that you make the link clearly accessible on your practice’s website and on all statements and notifications you send your patients. Additionally, make the link easy to access from any mobile device, and offer features such as paying via credit card or banking transfer, and setting up a payment plan to pay balances over time.
- Implement Automated Payment Notifications and Reminders
No matter how easy to use your self-service payment tool is or how simple your e-statement process may be, reminders are key to collecting outstanding patient balances. In our experience, we have found that patients also benefit from clear and regular notifications via text or email regarding payment due dates. An effective strategy is to vary the delivery of these notifications to catch your patient’s attention. For example, in addition to sending an e-statement every 28 days, consider sending an automated call or text midway through the month letting the patient know their outstanding balance. Appointment reminders for upcoming appointments should also include reminders about open balances.
If your practice is not focused on integrating digital tools into your patient collections process, you are missing an opportunity to collect a higher percentage of patient bills in a timelier manner. In addition, you are not offering your patients the convenient digital billing experience they increasingly demand. Boost your practice’s bottom line, improve your patient billing experience, and save time by switching to e-statements, offering seamless self-service payment tools, and implementing digital automated payment notifications and reminders. Utilizing these tools will ultimately save your practice personnel time and boost the rate of patient payments paid in full.