The patient’s healthcare experience begins well before, and lasts long after, the encounter with the care provider. Patient satisfaction will often hit peaks and valleys at various data points throughout each unique healthcare journey. The patient experience is complex and multifaceted. Every point of contact, combined with innumerable internal and external factors, influences the patient experience. From the helpful staff member who thoroughly explained co-payment collection to the burned-out nurse who left the patient feeling insecure, the patient experience during a clinical journey is a collection of micro-experiences.
While the patient experience is too broad to fit neatly into the responsibility of one department or one care team, it is helpful to conceptualize the patient experience as it relates to the revenue cycle, and to see how these two paths repeatedly intersect. It follows logically that one of the most meaningful ways to improve patient experience is to optimize revenue cycle management for the benefit of the healthcare consumer.
No Surprises, Please
Patient experiences are informed by patient expectations. One way to smooth out the ups and downs of the patient experience is to ensure patients know what to expect during each step of the revenue cycle, because informed patients are able to more effectively fulfill patient responsibilities than uninformed patients. Just like a patient who is not warned about traffic congestion near the parking garage is more likely to be late to an appointment, a patient who does not understand their financial responsibility for a high balance is more likely to fall short of meeting that responsibility. We can set our patients up for success by applying tools throughout the revenue cycle to make sure they are prepared to meet their financial responsibilities, and these same tools ensure healthcare organizations meet the responsibility of matching consumer expectations.
Explain Financial Responsibilities
Start the journey off on the right foot by showing the patient a price tag. <a href=” https://www.instamed.com/blog/trends-in-healthcare-seventh-annual-report-2016/”>A whopping 92 percent</a> of healthcare consumers want to know their financial responsibility before receiving services. This is a logical service to provide, and can be accomplished by using cost estimation tools and software for insurance eligibility verification.
Explain Payment Options
The best time for a patient to learn about an organization’s payment policy is before walking through the door. Educate patients about their payment and financing options and come to agreement about when and how they will pay early in the patient journey. Patients will be more satisfied with their experience, and less stressed overall, if they have a reasonable plan for paying high balances.
Make Paying Easy
When decisions about payment are made early, tools can be used to reduce patient cognitive load and increase timely collections. In addition to collecting some amount of payment at the time of service, offer patients the option to pay for upcoming expenses with automatic payments using a securely retained payment card or a digital wallet. Paired with electronic statements and receipts, automatic payments can free the patient’s time to focus on their health.
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One of the most challenging aspects of modern healthcare delivery is balancing the desire for a meaningful provider-patient relationship with the demands placed on practices to keep the schedule moving. Patient portals offer a modern solution to engaging patients with their healthcare team, allowing them convenient access to health records, secure messaging to providers, and billing options. The patient portal and email messaging also bridge the gap between each point of contact and individual clinical encounters, which keeps the patient informed, engaged, and in a better position to control their health.