Health plays an important economic role in modern society. Despite widespread access to technological and human resources, the US economy faces significant problems with bankruptcies rising from healthcare debt, healthcare costs and uncompensated care.
There are lots of reasons why Americans don’t pay their medical bills. Not only are they much bigger than many patients expect, most healthcare providers haven’t shared prices (or even estimates) before costs were incurred until recently,
Consumer Reports reported nearly 3 in 10 insured Americans had an unpaid medical debt sent to a collection agency. The billing process has been confusing and inconsistent for many patients. Here are some of the common complaints we hear:
- Receive multiple bills instead of a consolidated bill from providers who performed services on the same day.
- A inconsistent fragmented communication approach. Scheduling, payment reminders, statements aren't coordinated.
Historically, healthcare facilities have relied on commercial and government payers to meet their revenue goals but healthcare's largest growing payer is their patients. Now is the time to start investing in ways to connect and communicate with patients.
Here’s some solutions we’ve found help transform your patient pay revenue.
Effective communication tips for the healthcare sector
In order to improve payment outcomes, healthcare organizations need to analyze their current billing methods and implement creative new solutions. The following tips are a great place to start:
- Upgrade your patient statements. There is still a large group of people that prefer paper statements. Revise your statements to include the patient's preferred language, eliminate multiple phone numbers to avoid confusion, and make service descriptions as clear as possible.
Results from revising our patient statements: An increase in online payments, secure automated payments through Emerald's interactive voice response system (IVR) and a decrease in agent assisted payments meaning, less agent talk time.
|Online Payments||IVR Payments||Agent Assisted Payments|
- Add a digital billing plan. Sending electronic billing statements is likely to increase your online payments significantly, reduce agent call volume, and lower paper statement costs. When sending digital communications, it's essential to understand “meaningful consent” and digital compliance requirements. HealthIT.gov has created a useful eConsent toolkit to help you get started.
- Give your patients options Adding a payment plan option helps your fixed-income patients to manage and pay off their debt faster. Many patients simply won’t participate in resolving their balance until a payment plan has been created. Don’t let your patients dictate the payment arrangement. Create a policy you’re comfortable with and stick to it.
Effective healthcare management demands a simple and transparent payment solution. Communicating with your patients helps to decrease resolution time, uncompensated care, bankruptcy, and overall healthcare spending. While costs will always be an issue for some patients, changing how you communicate can have a huge effect on how quickly and effectively payments are resolved.