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Empathy in Billing

When patients decide to seek care and start exploring options, online research is a common way to start. At this stage, healthcare facilities, practices, and hospitals can stand out by sharing information on their websites. The data can include pricing for standard procedures and services. Furthermore, forms of payment, insurance providers accepted, patient financial obligations, and the availability of healthcare financing with subsequent payment plans can bring out your organization’s empathy in billing services.
Additionally, financial counseling coupled with professional third-party medical billing services is a plus to building patient-physician trust, making a patient’s financial experience seamless.

Maximizing Patient Financial Experience with Empathy in Billing

Increasing healthcare costs and insurance premiums have patients more concerned with their medical bills than ever before, giving rise to the importance of healthcare financial management. Patients now seek more transparency in billing and engagement regarding their healthcare options. Furthermore, patients also want flexible payment plans and convenient payment modes, including digital payments and patient portals.
Empathy in billing services requires providers to encourage patients to stay actively engaged financially. Doing so promotes preventive care, improving health outcomes and ultimately boosting a provider’s bottom line.

Effective Healthcare Financial Management

When a patient decides to make contact by calling for an appointment or filling out an online form, there lies your opportunity to make a strong first impression. The information most patients find helpful can be shared here as well. Secondly, it is also possible to ease financial policies, cost estimates, and payment expectations in this conversation in addition to the specific type of appointment needed.

Financial Discussion at the Appointment

Empathy in billing also states that the best time to share financial information is during the appointment and to offer helpful tools and resources. It can include traditional steps like showing financial policy documents and information on payment portals. Furthermore, it is beneficial to post signage, including clings and posters, which direct patients online to seek in-detail information and have supportive conversations regarding care costs and budgets.
Lastly, having a dedicated support staff to answer any questions and provide advice is another factor of emphatic financial management. It also helps that your front office staff has the tools and training to deliver a positive and consistent patient financial experience.

Post-care Empathy in Billing

When it comes to showing empathy in billing for the due balances, the two priorities here should be:

  • Prevention of surprise billing
  • Providing solutions

Empathy in billing necessitates that the prevention of unexpected medical bills starts at the earlier stages of the journey. Furthermore, during billing, offering precise information and easier access to people/resources is also helpful, which can help answer questions, address issues, and assist in other related ways.
To ensure empathy in billing, perhaps the most important part is providing helpful options for managing payments – as it can make a massive difference in patient satisfaction. Additionally, doing so can also positively impact your collections.
Accepting varying forms of payment, encouraging online payments, offering third-party financing, and offering in-house payment plans can all go a long way to aiding patients. All this can help your patients feel good about their medical bills and financial responsibilities – to get better prepared to meet/pay them.

7 Keys to Ensure Positive Patient Financial Experience

Improving a patient’s financial experience is a significant initiative – or more as for healthcare organizations as complex and large as a hospital or a health system. While some priorities, challenges, and opportunities might differ in every case, some general keys to success apply to the broader spectrum and can be helpful to consider at the higher level. Some of the key factors towards empathy in billing and positive patient financial experience include the following:

Reliable Financial Policies

Clear and consistent financial policies are fundamental requirements for practices that hope to improve a patient’s financial experience. Clear policies help take a closer look at processes like the cost payment information and handling billing and collections. Your processes should be clearly defined, documented, and communicated to all stakeholders to support the management of financial issues.

Tools and Training

Establishing policies and communication is the first step; however, ensuring that the staff implementing those policies have the tools to do so successfully is equally important. These tools involve focused initial training and periodic refreshers and reinforcements over time. Furthermore, providing staff with the necessary tools and resources can help them improve the financial aspects of patient experiences.

Key Performance Indicators

For gauging the progress, it is vital to define some key success metrics and monitor and analyze the results regularly. The patient financial experience is broad; it is possible to identify the relevant data points, which can vary from organization to organization. For instance, you can look at the collections at the time of service, participation in financing programs, AR or past due, financial complaints, and the basic measures impacted by patient satisfaction and patient retention.

Conversational Support

Another tricky challenge lies in the fact that staff feels uncomfortable while talking about money. Staff can be hesitant to share financial information or even discuss costs/payments, especially when they think these details are bad news for patients. The bright side, however, is that patient’s need, want, and welcome these kinds of conversations – enabling them to avoid surprise billing and better budget their healthcare spending.
Here, providing regular training and education to staff can empower them to have an open, supportive, and honest financial conversation with patients.

Tools and Technology

Impactful integration of technology is vital for ensuring empathy in billing. In some instances, less is more, especially when the integration with legacy systems is costly or overwhelmingly complicated. Either this or the perceived gaps between the ideal and current states are vast. It is helpful to consider leveraging low-cost or free online resources, partnering with third-party providers who offer standalone solutions, or even integrating readily at specific points by focusing on incremental priorities.

Ensuring Cost Transparency

Providing cost estimates and price lists online has become relatively easier; the recent CMS requirements for the shoppable service lists drive that change. Improving accessibility to free online resources is also helpful for healthcare practices and their staff as a good starting point or quick reference.

Payment Modes

While the treatment costs can be high, paying them off might present challenges for patients. However, offering empathy in billing through positive patient experiences is still possible. The key is to be encouraging, empathetic, and helpful throughout the process. Conversationally, it can mean staff making it clear that they understand a patient’s difficulties, are compassionate, and are committed to helping them find the best way forward.

Final Word

Healthcare organizations that believe in empathy in billing, financial counseling, and healthcare financial management can increase patient satisfaction. Furthermore, clear communication, fair pricing, and assistance in understanding insurance coverages are all vital components that positively facilitate patients’ handling of the financial facets of healthcare.

Frequently Asked Questions

The six important factors that contribute to positive patient experience include:

  1. Limiting waiting times
  2. Improving personal patient engagement
  3. Offering convenience
  4. Understanding with empathy
  5. Boosting employee morale
  6. Showing kindness to patients

When you don’t know or understand where to begin, it gets overwhelming to detangle what factors drive a positive patient experience. To make it simpler, we have boiled positive patient experiences down to its 4 major pillars, including:

  1. Environment
  2. Expectations
  3. Care
  4. Value
Patient experiences are important to make them feel more settled, comfortable, and less anxious. It means patients are likely more ready and able to engage with their healthcare and care. Collectively, it all improves patient health outcomes.