Patients | July 22, 2020

Strategies for Re-engaging with the Patient Financial Experience

Healthcare organizations have worked diligently to care for employees and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. As healthcare workers and local governments continue to work to flatten the curve and reduce coronavirus cases, financial implications for both providers and patients are coming to the forefront. The decline in healthcare spending – much of it due to patient financial insecurity – has forced many organizations to make difficult decisions about furloughs and layoffs in order to stay afloat.

Prior to the pandemic, patients were already absorbing much of the out-of-pocket medical costs. The increased financial strain resulting from the economic shut down has put even more pressure on patients, causing many to make healthcare decisions based on financial rather than health needs.

In this new environment, providers can no longer afford to wait for patients to pay their balances. They must review the current backlog of appointments, reach out to referring physicians, and communicate with their community to re-engage patients with affordable payment options as a way to drive revenue back into the health systems. With lower demand from patients and increased competition for them, providers need a proactive solution to sustain their health systems.

“With many people experiencing financial uncertainty, helping patients with out-of-pocket medical expenses is one important way to re-engage patients and build volume for your organization,” said CarePayment CEO Craig Hodges. “Outsourcing patient financing to the right partner with the digital and high touch tools necessary to engage patients, no matter where they are in their financial journey, helps patients begin to prioritize their healthcare and helps providers increase their revenue. Moving this responsibility to an experienced partner also makes organizations leaner and more efficient. Should another crisis hit, you can lean on your partner organization to find solutions for you.”

As consumers shift to more technology-focused solutions, healthcare organizations should look to partner with someone who can leverage both digital and human engagement expertise to re-engage patients and drive cash flow. Technology that removes barriers to service and includes omni-channel support and early and frequent communication capabilities can help ease the financial burden on both providers and patients.

Comprehensive Solution

A good partner will have a comprehensive solution that can not only engage patients who speak with their provider and opt-in to a payment plan but also those at risk for collections activity. When those at risk can be auto-assigned to a financing program, providers see a significant increase in collections.

Along with the front end and pre-bad debt programs, a comprehensive solution also includes payment plans and aged accounts receivables (A/R) conversions. Having the ability to quickly convert a percentage of active A/R to cash and ensure balances are immediately funded and paid can be a lifeline for cash-strapped organizations.

Automated Account Servicing and Implementation

Multiple engagement methods are critical for a successful patient financing program, but underlying the engagement must be analytics that ensure all accounts are serviced. A solution with the technology to automate account servicing and remove obstacles ensures balances are loaded, helps increase collections, and reduces friction for the patient and the provider.

Additionally, in order for implementation to be successful, a company should have experience working with all HIS platforms and have the ability to leverage existing processes and workflows. These capabilities reduce staff workload and make the collections process seamless.

Omni-channel support

Communicating with patients on their terms using their preferred communication methods is key to engagement and reducing the lag between billing and payment. An omni-channel approach can include communications via email, call center, Interactive Voice Response, paper, or text message.

Text messages and text-to-pay are typically received with positive patient feedback and have a greater response rate. Text communications can let patients know once their statement is ready for review and remind them to make a payment. However, text notification should not replace any other mode of communication, such as printed statements or emails, unless the patient opts out of those specifically. Some patients still prefer to keep paper records and should be given that option.

It is also important that patients have a secure, online portal where they can make payments and review statements. User friendly, easy to navigate sites help patients make payments quickly and easily. Patients should also be able to update personal information and locate resources for improving their overall financial health.

Early Engagement Programs

Finding a partner with the technology to perform outreach and communication prior to receiving the patient balance keeps patients financially aware and nurtures the relationship to encourage prompt payment when the balance is ready. Designed to keep patients engaged from the moment of discharge, early and frequent communication reduces payment latency, builds financial trust between patients and providers, and meets patients where they are in their healthcare financial journey.

Remove Barriers to Service

Expanding service for patients should be a key tenant for any patient financing company. Some companies have maximum balances that automatically exclude patients from getting the healthcare they need because they are not offered a payment plan. Look for a partner with high balance options for both patients and providers.

Additionally, many companies require information that is often difficult for providers to collect. A good partner invests in the technology to remove these barriers to service, which reduces returned accounts and increase collections.