Blog | September 18, 2023

How Hospitals Can Create More Financially Engaged Patients

In today’s ever-evolving healthcare landscape, patient financial engagement has become an increasingly important and necessary element of the care journey. The number of people that reported delayed or forgone medical treatments due to cost hit a 22-year high in summer 2022, according to Gallup. As a result of this and other factors, approximately half of U.S. hospitals finished 2022 with a negative operating margin.

With the rise of healthcare consumerism, patients are taking on more responsibility for their medical expenses, and providers are increasingly relying on patient payments to bolster their bottom lines. Providers are no longer able to solely focus on clinical care as they must now assist patients in understanding and managing the financial aspects of their healthcare journey. So, what can providers do to create a better patient financial experience, and in turn increase accelerate their cash on hand?

To address these issues, we’ve outlined a three-stage approach, Communicate, Navigate, and Capture, to create a roadmap for creating more financially engaged patients.

Communicate: Begin at the Beginning

Patient financial engagement begins with effective communication. The key is to make patients aware of the available financial options and clarify payment expectations before they even step foot inside the healthcare facility. Patients today are making healthcare choices based not only on the quality of care, but also on provider’s financial offerings. Placing patient financing services on your website and distributing collateral materials within your facility clarifies for both parties the expectations surrounding payment, offering patients peace of mind about how they will pay their medical bills.

Providers should also cater to individual patient communication preferences. Just as healthcare isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, communication methods should align with what patients prefer. Offering a variety of communication channels, including email, text-to-pay, patient portals, postal mail, and more, gives patients convenient choices for engaging with their provider. Finally, uncertainty about the cost of care can add to the stress of healthcare visits. According to a TransUnion Healthcare survey, nearly 65% of patients said they would be more willing to make at least a partial payment if they got an estimate at the time of their healthcare service. Providing patients with a reasonably accurate estimate of their financial obligation empowers them to make informed decisions about their care and payment options.

Navigate: Show Patients the Way

The Navigate stage is all about guiding patients to find payment options that align with their financial situation. For patients, knowing they have choices allow them to avoid forgoing care or make financially damaging decisions to pay for necessary care. Validating patient identities and propensity to pay are essential elements of the Navigation phase, as it reduces medical fraud, while also enhancing collection abilities and patient satisfaction.

The most important measure a provider can take to influence a patient’s ability to pay is to offer customized and compassionate payment plans. By giving patients zero-interest, low monthly balances that meet their financial needs, providers create a more predictable cash flow, reduce re-work and bad debt, and help patients get needed care without the worry of how to pay. Allowing patients to actively participate in the selection of payment arrangements and manage their medical expenses over time has proven to be crucial, especially as healthcare costs rise. Including them in this process allows for more visibility, reduces confusion, and allows the patient to buy in, increasing the likelihood of payment.

Capture: Earn Back Your Earned Revenue

The Capture stage involves actively managing patient accounts and nurturing patient loyalty. Patient financial engagement doesn’t end with treatment. Offering a tailored, connected experience after the point of care adds value to your practice, encourages patient loyalty, and maximizes dollars collected. By actively managing accounts, staying in communication with patients, and coupling this ongoing outreach to patients about their clinical services with information about their patient financing services, providers will nurture patient loyalty, as well as earn back their hard-earned dollars.

Better Financial Journey = More Engaged Patients

In conclusion, mastering patient financial engagement through the three stages of Communicate, Navigate, and Capture is essential in today’s healthcare landscape. It not only empowers patients to manage their healthcare expenses but also helps providers streamline their revenue cycle. As providers embrace these strategies, they find themselves better positioned to manage and optimize patient financial engagement, resulting in a win-win situation. Patients can focus on their health with financial peace of mind, while providers see increased earned revenue and improved patient satisfaction.

One powerful ally in this journey is CarePayment. According to a CarePayment survey, patients who used CarePayment financing programs reported:

  • 88% were more satisfied with their providers after they began offering CarePayment.
  • 86% were more likely to recommend medical providers who offered CarePayment.
  • 80% were more likely to return to a provider for additional care because they could use CarePayment to pay their medical bills over time.

By embracing patient financial engagement and leveraging tools like CarePayment, healthcare providers can pave the way for more financially engaged patients and a successful future in healthcare.

For a full guide on creating more financially engaged patients, read our white paper, “Your Guide to Patient Financial Engagement from Start to Payment”.