by APEX Print Technologies – Texas
In the summer of 2006 a group of researchers from the HFMA’s Patient Friendly Billing Project set out to find ways to simplify the patient billing process while also searching for commonalities between high performing revenue cycle hospitals. Their research revealed that these commonalities were most consistent in the areas of People, Processes, Technology, Metrics, Communication and Culture. The HFMA stated that these high performers did not always have the “latest technology” or the most “financially desirable characteristics,” but what they did posses was a desire to create clear and understandable processes that allowed their patients to enjoy a seamless and for the most part painless healthcare experience. At Apex our core focus is assisting healthcare providers in the communications aspect of this billing initiative.
In today’s healthcare market patients are continuously bombarded with information and issues concerning their care, which in turn makes it extremely difficult when making choices about the services they receive. The chore of finding balance between informed and overwhelmed has become both difficult and daunting. Due to these factors, healthcare providers in today’s marketplace must take steps to insure that initial communications with patients breed not only a positive medical experience, but also a firm understanding of their payment responsibilities. How do you accomplish this through a patient statement?
Clear and Bold
Be clear and bold by branding your statement. When individuals are sick or injured, they often attend more than one facility or specialist. When they receive your facility’s bill they need to know where it originated from. Take steps to insure that the logo on your statement is consistent with the logo that your organization uses for all its materials. Also, make sure that your brand is found on both the tear off stub as well as the informational section patients keep for their records.
Choose legible fonts and font sizes. It is also imperative to highlight and enlarge the font sizes of the most pertinent informational points on the statement. These areas in our opinion are the account or guarantor number, amount due, statement date, and the remittance address. Patients are first and foremost interested in their financial responsibility, but by bolding and increasing all of the areas mentioned it allows for easy access to all vital information. This also facilitates smoother and shorter phone conversations for busy customer service representatives.
Be concise and state only what is needed. Remember that most patients are not members of a billing department. We often have a tendency to place as much information on a patient statement as possible in order to answer any query that could possibly come about. This practice can and most often is counterproductive. By including acronyms that only apply to a small minority you only succeed in confusing the majority. This in turn leads to an increase in office calls. Be diligent in insuring that included information applies to the majority of your patients and allow the rare questions to flow into your customer service representatives.
Correct and Proof
Correct, proof and proof again. When re-designing your statement be sure to allow for an intensive proofing phase. What can be forgotten is that your system’s data may contain variables that print only on a monthly or weekly basis. Be sure and conduct quality analysis of your new statement format for at least one month at a minimum to ensure that all relevant information is populating the new design correctly.
When patients leave your medical facility happy with the services they have received you cannot afford to spoil that experience and their loyalty to your organization by frustrating them with a faulty billing process. By utilizing all of the concepts discussed here the goal of developing a patient friendly statement can be achieved. Simply stated, patient friendly means complete transparency. What the patient owes, where the bill originated, and what their financial responsibility is all rolled into an easily understandable statement. The benefits from this process are many, such as decreased patient phone calls and increased patient statements, but most important is patient satisfaction.