Patient billing statements are often overlooked as a valuable communication tool. The fact is, however, that patient statements are still the primary method of communicating billing information and balances owed to patients, which as we all know is a critical aspect of the revenue cycle.
So why is it that so many providers look at patient statements as a cost and not an investment? By investing in this communication tool, providers can realize significant improvements to Patient AR and reductions to Bad Debt, which equates to millions of dollars in revenue.
On the other hand, cost reduction generally equates to the level of performance. So while less expensive statements may reduce a single business cost – it will not provide the far more significant financial gains that high-performing statements would at a higher price point.
We’ve outlined 5 ways that you can improve the performance of your patient statements…
1. Don't Send the Statement to Every Patient
Just as everyone has a very personal healthcare experience, each has unique financial needs and preferences that affect how, when and if they pay their bill. Segmenting patients based on elements such as: payment history, high balance, low balance, procedure type and other patient demographics will allow you to tailor statement messaging to each unique patient group. Not only will you have a higher collection rate, you will provide clarity and more tailored support to your patients which will enhance their overall experience with your facility. Some tailored messaging examples include:
- Prompt pay discount for large balances
- Payment plan promotion for large balances with poor payment history
- Promote mobile/online pay for small balances
- Promote patient portal to patients with active history
2. Engage with Patient Across Multiple Channels
Patient financial messaging should be a cohesive effort that starts at the point-of-service and carries through to after-care billing. Nobody likes a surprise bill – provide your staff with the visibility and training they need to start the financial conversation early and have a communication plan that meets your patients at their convenience. Incorporate cohesive messaging across all primary channels
- Point of service
- Online Patient Portal and Billing Portal
- Customer Service
- Patient Statements
- Incorporate short satisfaction survey
3. Make Statement Delivery Options Easy
You can reduce paper costs, increase delivery time and improve patient satisfaction by making it easy for patients to opt-in (or opt-out) of electronic delivery. Things to consider:
- The enrollment process should be quick and easy – limit steps and pre-populate any fields that you can
- Offer text message statement notification as a complimentary service
- Make it easy to pay an electronic statement – don’t make your patients dig around for a “pay online” button
- Make statement copies also available in your patient portal
4. Make Payments Convenient
Not everyone wants to or is able to pay the same way. It is important to offer a wide variety of payment methods and channels to your patients so that you don’t discourage any one group from paying on time – or at all!
- Payments on-site – patients that are frequent visitors may find it most convenient to pay their latest statement on site.
- Payments at the Point-of-Service – use an estimation tool to offer patients the option to pre-pay. (it’s one less thing for them to remember later and they do it all the time at the dentist’s office)
- Online Payments – provide intuitive online payments inside your patient portal, in a separate billing portal for those that don’t want to enroll in the patient portal but want electronic statements, and through a “no-login” platform for those that don’t want to create an account period.
- Mobile & Text Payments – give patients the options to pay on the go!
5. Apply Analytics to Maximize Results!
You don’t know how well you’re doing unless you track your results. Set up dashboards that compare statement volume to payment performance. Monitor the dashboard as you adjust your online billing platform, your statement messaging, messaging initiatives at the front desk, customer service script adjustments, etc. so you can see the effect your efforts are having on payment performance.
According to this article published by Definitive Health, 2016 is the year for providers to focus on patient financial engagement. Developing a patient financial communication strategy is key! If you’re still sending the same statement to every patient every cycle, we encourage you to consider a new approach. Investing in stronger communications will deliver strong returns – not only to your bottom line, but in a better patient experience.