About six years ago, St. Luke’s Health conducted a patient survey to solicit feedback regarding its billing procedures. The results were eye-opening, because less than 30 percent of patients polled said they were satisfied with their experience.
That unsettling insight motivated St. Luke’s to retool its payment processing system. Now they have an intuitively navigated and labor-saving digital solution that is both patient-centered and cost effective.
As St. Luke’s realized, most healthcare revenue cycle systems are geared toward collection from entities such as insurance companies and government agencies, not patients. The problem for patients is that such business-only approaches tend to be highly technical and rather impersonal. They rely on lots of coding numbers and complicated formats. Patients, however, are accustomed to a typical retail consumer experience that’s very user-friendly. They are easily confused and frustrated by healthcare payment systems. Oftentimes the result is that they take longer to pay and are more prone to default. They will also leave a practice if a competitor offers a more patient-centric alternative.
St. Luke’s overhaul of its payment procedures targeted three primary areas. First, they set out to enhance patient interactions with their call centers. Next, they analyzed the visual layout and information content in billing statements. Last but certainly not least, St. Luke’s sought a solution that would fully leverage the power and flexibility of a centralized online portal for patient payment processing. Today, St. Luke’s patient portal easily serves up to 60,000 patients.
Patients can log on 24/7 to view bills that are presented in an easier-to-decipher way that delivers more transparency. They can pay bills for multiple services and procedures in one conveniently centralized place. They can pay bills instantly and electronically, the way they do at online retail websites. Those who need to can even enjoy their own flexible online or recurring payment plans. They have greater understanding and control of their healthcare finances, and that gives them a good feeling.
Meanwhile, going digital gives St. Luke’s much greater agility in terms of cash flow analysis, financial reporting, and other related metrics. The majority of patients now say that the billing experience is satisfying. Compared to those who report being less happy with paper billing, up to 80 percent of patients are pleased with the digital format. St. Luke’s has seen a nearly 40 percent improvement in self-pay collections, plus a drop in collection costs of more than 20 percent.
Providers like St. Luke’s have game-changing technological advantages that were unavailable in the past. Those who adopt these innovative payment processing systems reap multiple benefits for themselves and their patients. Today’s advanced platforms and portals ensure robust security, too, with data encryption and tokenization and full PCI and HIPAA compliance.
From top to bottom, the whole revenue cycle can be seamlessly upgraded and enhanced. That translates into patient satisfaction and faster processing, reduced staffing and overhead, and less clutter with more clarity and efficiency. These systems also offer additional benefits and layers of protection such as cloud-based redundancy and customized branding. That means that any practice, large or small, can enjoy the kinds of enviable outcomes realized by St. Luke’s.