Delivering a superior customer experience is paramount in any type of business. Today, this is the key to staying competitive in healthcare. Even physician practices that outsource medical billing need to pay attention to enhancing the patient experience. According to Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), more than half of all workers have deductibles and out-of-pocket liability of greater than $1,000. With the rise of high deductible health plans and increase in patient responsibility, people are shopping around before they choose a physician or medical facility. Therefore, providing a personalized experience is crucial to enhance your patients’ loyalty and satisfaction, which in turn, will boost your practice’s revenue.
There are many ways physicians can enhance the patient experience and improve their competitive edge:
- Improve the patient registration experience: First impressions are the best impressions and that’s why the patient registration process is so important. It sets the tone for the entire patient encounter at your facility. Whether the practice relies on outsourced medical billing services or manages the billing process in-house, having a proper registration process is important. It should include insurance eligibility verification, which will reduce denial risks by ensuring accuracy in names, birth dates, or addresses, and other coverage-related information. In addition to guaranteeing that accurate patient data is available, a quality registration system allows providers to share information across the entire network, improving care and reducing the risk of errors. Accurate information capture at each point of patient contact improves staff efficiency, streamlines the entire pre-registration/registration process, cuts wait times for patients, improves patient satisfaction, and boosts collections.
- Educate patients on their financial responsibility: With increasing patient responsibility, it is crucial that physicians improve billing communications. Patients should be educated about their financial obligation as early in the process as possible. With the help of an insurance verification specialist, practice staff can counsel patients about their financial obligations by providing information about what their insurance plan will and will not cover, what they have to pay out of pocket, so on. This will help prevent surprise bills.
Patient portals and a highly professional and sophisticated customer service team can go a long way in helping patients understand the complexities of their bills and statements. An article published by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) recommends that providers discover and use the communication mode preferred by various demographic groups to ensure that they stay connected with the practice. For example, older patients may prefer phone or email, while millennial generation patients may prefer to receive text messages. A positive billing experience will enhance patient satisfaction and loyalty as well as reduce costs and optimize revenue.
- Provide price transparency: Today’s patient wants a clear and concise billing statement. HealthExec reported on a survey in which more than eight in 10 respondents (84 percent) said that front-end cost estimates would have either a somewhat positive (37 percent) or very positive impact (47 percent) on their decision to continue using a provider. The report cites Dave Wojczynski, senior vice president of TransUnion Healthcare as saying: “Front-end solutions that provide upfront cost estimates, and back-end solutions that deliver accurate bills, will be critical as consumers continue to link their billing experience to quality of care… Accurate, timely and transparent cost information will help improve overall patient satisfaction and will increase return visits to providers.”
- Simplify the payment process: In addition to discussing costs, providing an accurate estimate of the total bill, and explaining the components of the bill such as out-of-pocket expense, copay and insurance coverage, practices should focus on streamlining the later stages of the billing process by offering convenient and flexible payment options like POS swipe machines, card-on-file, ACH autopay, and credit card payments through a patient portal.
- Improve the patient’s clinical experience: There are many studies providing evidence that EHR data entry detracts from the quality of the consultation and the patient’s experience. Listen to the patient, get support to manage EHR clinical documentation, and don’t use medical jargon or terms unfamiliar to them. Have a well-designed, patient-friendly website where the public can learn about your practice. Ensure that your portal is equipped with tools that allow patients access information via pull-down menus and a portal for them to make payments, schedule appointments, and communicate through secure e-mail. Treat your patients with honor and respect, and focus on addressing their complaints efficiently and quickly.
Providing a great consumer experience is a challenge in any industry, more so healthcare. Partnering with an experienced medical billing service provider can help improve billing practices and free up more time to focus on your patients. Enhancing your patients’ clinical experience will improve satisfaction and loyalty, help you stay competitive, and boost your practice’s revenue.