The healthcare system has been slow to change in its revenue cycle programs. In fact, many doctors’ offices and hospitals still take and even prefer paper checks. In our world of various smartphone payment apps, pay-by-text options and automatic transfers, that’s practically a holdover from the stone age.
Adopting payment technology in your practice can certainly help generate more revenue for your practice, as many consumers today find paying by check a hassle. However, technological advances are just one tool in a healthcare practitioner’s or hospital's toolkit to improve revenue cycles. Here’s a run-down of some of the most effective ways to decrease revenue cycles; some are new, some are tried-and-true, a blend of both will show the most results.
Utilize Patient Engagement Platforms
Patient engagement platforms aren’t always about sending appointment reminders and medication notifications, sometimes these platforms can help with revenue cycles. PatientBond’s revenue cycle management program has proven to be especially useful. PatientBond uses automated payment reminders that are crafted using specially gleaned psychographic segmentation insights that motivate a patient to pay their bill and promote prompt repayment. The study of psychographics has been around for several decades in the consumer products and retail industries but new to healthcare. It involves drilling down beneath the surface to consumers’ values, attitudes, personalities and lifestyles and understanding their unique motivations.
So when it comes to getting a notification from the hospital when a balance is due, one segment, Willful Endurers, is statistically more likely than any other segment (with 95 percent confidence) to prefer automated phone calls. By using the preferred communication methods of Willful Endurers and also appealing to the “here and now” mindset they possess, a campaign can yield better results than a “one size fits all” marketing approach. Practices and hospitals using PatientBond have reported a 25 percent increase in receivables within 48 hours of launching the service. Read more about PatientBond's revenue cycle improvement programs here.
Make Payment as Convenient as Possible
Providers should be accelerating integration of new payment receptacles into their existing system. BillingTree recently surveyed providers’ payment practices, and it was summed up in Becker’s. You can read the whole study here, but a few interesting tidbits:
Respondents ranked the patient's inability to pay and collecting once the patient has left the facility as the top two challenges related to managing patient payments.
Amid these challenges, adoption of electronic payments will continue, the survey suggests. More than half of respondents (54.5 percent) indicated their facility/practice plans to add web payments within the next 12 months. More than a quarter of respondents (27.3 percent) indicated their practice/facility plans to add text payments.
The more options your patients have, the better, as it makes paying convenient. Moreover, if you make something convenient, people will use it more often. A bonus: you are also cementing patient loyalty. It’s subtle, but when you give patients different payment options, you’re sending the message: “We know you’re busy and juggling ten different things, so choose the easiest way for you.”
Up to 20 percent of a physician's revenue comes in the form of patient copay, but only a meager 60 percent of copayments are ever collected by doctors and hospitals. That’s a lot of revenue left on the table. We know pricing is very complicated, more so than the public understands, but being clear up front about how much something is going to cost avoids “surprising” a patient with a bill that is heftier than they expected. If a patient knows something is going to be $200 going in, then your chances of collecting that are much higher.
A recent study of physicians offices showed that only about 57 percent of providers always have a financial responsibility discussion with their patients. Having empathetic, trained staff can make financial discussions a seamless, painless part of the patient's visit. Revcycle offers some insightful thoughts on the topic:
Healthcare organizations can empower their staff to reach out to patients at the point-of-service about payments due by refreshing staff on what patient financial responsibility is. The more staff understand, the more comfortable they may be with having difficult financial discussions.
Offer Payment Plans
Getting an up-front payment or a complete payment at the time of service is ideal. However, reality sometimes dictates bowing to cash flow concerns. There are all sorts of off-the-shelf financial software that allow for easy payment tracking. If patients are given the option of paying a steady amount each month for X number of months, then it’s both helpful to the patients’ budgets and useful to your practice’s, as well.
Find more patient acquisition insights when you download PatientBond’s case study.