Thanks to changes in the health insurance market and rising healthcare costs, it can be difficult for patients to fully understand their financial responsibility to their healthcare providers. Fortunately, well-crafted, well-targeted digital payment reminders not only simplify collections but also increase patient loyalty. To learn why, let’s look at the trends that have impacted the state of healthcare today.
Patient Responsibility Trends
Today, it’s no secret patients are seeing plans with higher deductibles, as well as higher premiums. Because of these increases, healthcare consumers are on the hook to pay larger portions of their bills, and it’s up to providers to make the payment process more convenient, user-friendly and personalized. Today, that means providing greater price transparency up front and verifying insurance coverage before a (non-emergency) service. You may also want to understand what motivates your patients to take action and consider automating your collections process.
If patients need to pay larger percentages of their medical bills than they previously did, then how are healthcare providers collecting these balances?
Most healthcare providers do not currently have a patient-centered payment process. While the market has changed, the process is very much the same. Building on what we said earlier, communicating with the patient as soon as possible is a great way to increase the likelihood that you will receive what is owed.
Ideally, the best time to collect payment is when the patient is still in your office. Chances are, though, your patients won’t always be able to pay the full balance on the day of their appointment. At this point, your team’s job is to get a portion of the bill (aim for half, if possible) paid up front to jump-start the payment process. Then, you can set your patients up with a payment plan and automated payment reminders.
Payment Reminder Trends
Patients have many responsibilities and priorities when it comes to their healthcare, from providing their medical history to complying with treatment plans. While the responsibility of payment certainly lies with the patient, there are certain changes providers can make so that the process becomes easier for the patients to pay their bills.
As we’ve established, convenience is critical to influence patients to pay on time. Therefore, one of the best ways to make your collections more patient-centric is to offer automated payment reminders that have a “pay now” option. One trend that is emerging with these reminders is the use of psychographic segmentation to understand how patients prefer to pay their bills, and using this information to “individualize” communication that increases the likelihood of patient making a payment.
PatientBond’s omni-channel digital engagement platform uses psychographic segmentation to classify healthcare consumers based on their preferences, lifestyle and motivations. This information can then be used to craft compelling messages that motivate patients to take a specific action — like paying their bills.
In 2018, PatientBond completed updates to their Consumer Diagnostic, a nationally-representative study on healthcare consumers in the United States. According to this research, most patients would prefer to pay their outstanding balance online with a credit card and through a mobile device.
As an example, one group was generally more likely than the others to prefer payment online via PayPal. These Willful Endurers were also significantly more likely than any other segment to be interested in receiving a text message notification of their balance due to a hospital. If you know your patients’ segments, you can create customized messaging that resonates with them and improves the likelihood that they will pay.
Believe it or not, well-written, HIPAA compliant payment reminders can also help you increase your patient loyalty. By reminding them of upcoming bills ahead of time, you can provide your patients with a more positive experience. Patients who have had great, memorable experiences are more likely to become loyal. You also reduce the likelihood of patients receiving a surprise bill, which often encourages consumers to seek care elsewhere.
With patients becoming more responsible for payments, it’s in your organization’s best interest to make the collections process as convenient and personalized as possible. Between providing helpful reminders, education, tailored messaging and simple ways to pay, you can help your practice collect more payments and retain more patients.
For more on psychographic segmentation and how it can be used to enhance payment reminders and drive patient loyalty, download our case study.