(Insert sweet, instrumental music with slow-motion montage of smiling, be-scrubbed healthcare professionals dancing in a sea of checks. Then, a smooth voiceover begins...)
"Imagine a world where all patients paid their bills on time..."
We know, there's no imagination powerful enough to envision a world where all bills were paid on time. However, the advent of patient portals has certainly provided opportunities for more patients to submit payments in a timely fashion.
So, yes! Effective marketing can improve healthcare efficiency.
In fact, according to Athena Health, "Practices that increased portal adoption rates by 20 percentage points or more over 12 months saw a median increase in patient pay yield of nearly five percent." That's a significant percentage when you're talking previously unclaimed dollars and cents.
Improve Billing Efficiency With Effective Healthcare Marketing
In 2014, E&Y for the Association of Credit and Collection Agencies reported that medical-related debt accounts for 38% of all debt held by third-party collections agencies. Odds are, those agencies are working to collect debt from some of your patients.
That debt certainly hurts the individual, but it also represents money that could have been added to your bottom line. In this digital world, healthcare marketers can ease the financial burden shared by both parties by making it easier for patients to pay their bills.
Market patient portals
Good patient portals offer bill payment as one of their most desirable features. But if patients don't know how to use the portal, or forget the portal exists, the feature is useless. Make sure you're marketing your patient portal effectively and doing all you can to get patients registered and active.
Include tutorials on how to make payments and how to set up a income/needs-based payment plan if your facility is amenable to that. Money is a sensitive issue, so the ability to make remote payments—however small—can be less threatening to embarrassed patients who aren't financially able to pay in full.
Design payment CTAs right on the homepage
Don't make patients work to pay you—make the payment process easy. In addition to electronic billing and payment options, use Home Page space to display a compelling CTA linked directly to bill paying options. For customers who automatically delete your emails, or may even spam you, that CTA may be just what they need to see to learn more about remote payment options.
For those who meant to pay you last week but didn't, a visit to your website to schedule the next appointment or call for a prescription refill may also be inspired to pay in-the-moment.
Install patient portal kiosks in every waiting room
Installing kiosks in waiting rooms increases patient use of portals and can also improve healthcare billing efficiency. When patients log in to register their arrival, the kiosk can provide a friendly reminder that a bill is due (or overdue) and provide the opportunity to make a payment.
An article in the healthcare section of Information Week shares that a large healthcare clinic based in San Diego initially installed kiosks with the goal of improving patient engagement and fulfilling federal mandates. In addition to fulfilling these goals, they were pleasantly surprised to see how the portals facilitated the collection of overdue patient bills—improving monthly payments into the double digits.
Focus on developing a warm, caring, patient-centric brand
We often acquaint unpaid bills with insufficient funds. This is not always the case. In a recent HFMA executive roundtable, Senior Vice President for Change Healthcare Stuart Hanson shared, "...a recent study showed that only one-third of patients who are dissatisfied... paid their bills in full. Conversely, three-quarters of satisfied patients completely settled their debt, and 95 percent remained loyal to the organization."
If you're not focusing on patient satisfaction and developing a caring, patient-centric brand, you're missing out on payments and valuable word-of-mouth-referrals.
Healthcare marketing via friendly websites, informative and targeted blogs, and social media posts can play a huge role in establishing the tone you want to set for healthcare providers and patients alike. Cha-ching!