For decades, a great deal of effort, money, and attention has been directed at how to improve the patients’ clinical experience. As the relationship between care providers and patients has evolved, the healthcare industry invested heavily in understanding the patient journey and the expectations of the new “healthcare consumer”. Unfortunately, the focus has been mainly on the clinical side of the patient experience, with little or no attention paid to improving the “business transactions” that happen after healthcare services have been provided.
This approach is like treating symptoms while ignoring the underlying problem. As patients become more informed healthcare consumers, the financial experience will become an increasingly critical part of patient satisfaction and loyalty to all healthcare-related organizations. If your organization is focusing on the clinical experience and doing “business as usual” on the financial side, you are at risk of tainting your exceptional clinical services with a poor “consumer experience”. Healthcare consumers are becoming more demanding and have higher expectations when it comes to billing transparency, communications, patient payments, and financial options. This is the new reality of the “business of healthcare”.
Just as you engage your patients in their clinical care, the same level of attention needs to be provided in their financial transactions with your organization. So what does that mean? Essentially, you need to think of your healthcare services in terms of the consumer experience, much like a retailer or other service organization would consider the customer experience.
The shift of financial responsibility to the healthcare consumer has created increased fiscal pressure due to higher deductibles and increased medical debt. You are an integral player in this healthcare financial ecosystem, and the experience you provide to your patients is going to make a difference in the future of your organization.
Here are ways to create a better patient financial experience:
- Avoid friction on medical charges by providing accurate upfront estimates of all services
- Deliver consistent billing communications to patients through invoices, statements, and billing reminders.
- Offer payment options that provide the flexibility needed to integrate healthcare expenses into patients’ personal budgets.
- Leverage technology, and automation to eliminate errors and reduce staffing constraints that degrade service and consistency in routine billing procedures.
- Provide customer service tools like online payments, payment portals, and digital communications that make it easy for patients to meet their financial obligations.
- Make sure that the systems you adopt will integrate into your existing systems and workflows, to avoid downtime and reworking processes you already have in place.
Your revenue team or billing department is now an important part of the overall patient experience within your organization. We all know consumers have many choices today, and healthcare is no exception.