Healthcare providers are constantly meeting new challenges and striving to improve the quality of patient care. One important area that is often overlooked is the revenue cycle and its impact on the patient’s experience.
A recent joint article from the Beryl Institute & HFMA describes “patient experience” as a sum of all interactions and extends well beyond critical clinical encounters. This encompasses all encounters across the care journey, before and after clinical engagement and everywhere in between.
Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how the revenue cycle affects not only hospital finances, but also patients’ experiences and the interaction with providers. This article will explore the various ways the revenue cycle can have an impact on the patient and discuss solutions to improve the patient experience.
The Revenue Cycle as a Strategic Driver
The revenue cycle shapes the financial experience for a consumer. Any inefficiencies in the revenue cycle can have a profound impact on patients and providers, causing delays or mistakes in billing and insurance claims that could lead to a poor patient experience and possibly a lost customer. To avoid this, it’s important to take a step back and look at all the touchpoints that individuals have with a healthcare organization – starting with viewing the patient as a consumer.
Engaging the Consumer Pre-Service
As a consumer of healthcare, patients are more empowered now than ever to shop around for healthcare and identify care providers that offer ease of access, transparent healthcare costs, and stellar customer service. This is the first line of vision into a provider organization, so nailing this right out of the gate is crucial.
The three most important tools you can offer a healthcare consumer at this stage are:
- A price estimation tool that shows accurate out-of-pocket expense estimates whether someone has insurance or not
- Various payment and affordability options like discounts, payment plans, and non-recourse loans to make it easy for patients to pay their bills on time
- A scheduling tool so the individual can take an active next step in their care journey
Educating the Patient at Registration and Point-of-Service
At this point, the healthcare consumer has taken action and is willing to give the organization an opportunity to provide care. Since this is still relatively early in their journey, they are likely still hesitant about the onslaught of surprise fees. For this reason, it’s crucial that nothing slips through the cracks during insurance verification and authorization (if applicable) and that price estimation and financial counseling are communicated effectively.
Patients want a clear understanding of their financial responsibility, including how and when they can pay. Healthcare organizations will have the most success capturing timely payments from customers if they offer a platform that prioritizes a mobile experience. With seamless self-pay options and the option to use a digital wallet, healthcare organizations can make it as easy as possible for patients to pay their bills in full and keep revenue streams consistent.
Offering the most up-to-date, easy-to-use financial services at this stage will go a long way in bridging the financial experience with the consumer experience.
Offering Powerful Post-Service Communications
The chances that a patient will pay for their portion of the bill drops considerably at this stage in their journey. This is why communication and financial education are so critical well before this encounter – not only for patients but for your bottom line.
Effective and efficient account resolution can be achieved when healthcare organizations empower consumers with a post-service, self-pay model. It’s best to avoid multiple screens and time-consuming loan program form fill-outs. A consumer-minded payment experience enables consumers to take control of their outstanding bills within a few clicks of a button.
An ideal scenario is providing a variety of options in one view. Whether paying in full, paying a partial amount, setting up a payment plan or looking at financial assistance eligibility, the consumer has the ability to take action immediately. Robust payment technology such as this helps to positively influence consumer satisfaction while improving revenue streams.
Reframing the Revenue Cycle Mindset
Strategically, it’s no longer enough for revenue cycle teams to prioritize collections. The human experience requires a process that looks and feels more like a partnership. An end-to-end customer experience approach where the revenue cycle team serves as an advocate for the patient and provides financial services and education will help to positively impact the consumer view. This will not only lead to loyal customers, but also to a significantly improved cash flow for healthcare organizations.
HealthPay24 can help elevate the patient payment experience in your organization. Our comprehensive digital engagement and payment platform is proven to increase patient payments while improving patient satisfaction and loyalty. We’re committed to offering the tools needed to achieve a higher standard of financial communication, from a point of understanding, so provider organizations can deliver the best outcome for everyone.
Learn more about how we helped OSS Health transform its patient engagement efforts while reducing the cost per transaction in our free case study.