Improving the patient experience is the forefront of conversation today for healthcare organizations. Some vendors claim to offer the simplest, most user-friendly payment experience, but they are only focusing on one specific area of the process instead of the full end-to-end experience. In order to deliver the best possible patient payment experience, ask yourself, what does a great patient payment experience really look like? Here are four actions we believe are necessary to create a great patient payment experience.
Listen to the Voice of the Consumer
The healthcare experience has traditionally been confusing and frustrating for patients. Seventy-two percent of consumers are confused by their EOBs, while 70 percent of consumers are confused by their medical bills. In addition, only 9 percent of consumers could successfully define all four of these basic healthcare insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, insurance and out-of-pocket maximum. This confusion is driving fear and frustration in healthcare leading to poor patient experiences. The only way to deliver a great patient payment experience is by listening to your consumers.
We can look to consumer experiences in different industries with leaders such as Amazon, Uber or Starbucks. These companies have listened to what consumers are looking for and have created experiences that are positive from end-to-end. But healthcare, of course is more complex – we must take the best experiences from these brands and modify them to work in the healthcare atmosphere. For example, do you get a lot of phone calls into your back office from confused patients? Make sure you take this feedback and use it to improve your processes, so patients know you are listening and understanding their requests. Be sure to also work with a vendor that understands the voice of the consumer so you can ensure you are eliminating confusion in patients and delivering the best possible payment experience.
It’s More Than Just Online Payments
Today’s patients depend on having online payment options, but your online payments experience can’t just be simple; it has to actually make the experience better for patients.
Here are the features that patients want from their online experience:
- Self-service tools like payment plans, eStatement enrollment and automatic payments
- The ability to manage a digital wallet and store multiple payment methods
- The ability to view bills all in one place, across family members and healthcare organizations
- The ability to make a one-time payment, or log in with an account
- Visibility into payment history
When looking at features patients do want in their online experience, it is also important to consider what they don’t want. A disconnected online payment experience only adds to patient confusion and frustration. The best way to satisfy patients is having one place to manage all healthcare payments. Your patients also do not want lack of transparency and visibility into their accounts. It is important to keep your online payment experience as simple as possible, but it must also meet the needs of the patients using it otherwise the payment experience will not be useful to the patient.
Since 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone, many industries have found that reaching consumers through their phones is a way to offer a convenient and frictionless payment experience. Healthcare organizations can also leverage technology that lets them reach consumers through their phones to improve financial engagement. By offering a mobile check-in experience that lets patients use their own mobile devices, patients don’t have to handle germy, shared devices or wait in line. They can now check in, view their benefit information, pay copays or any outstanding balances, and sign up for eStatements and automatic payments all from their own mobile device.
All patients should also be able to make mobile payments through their smartphone devices so that they can make a payment anywhere, at any time. As with all payment information and data, it is important to be PCI compliant and keep consumer payment information safe. To ensure full mobile optimization, patients must be able to have the same experience on their phones as in an online portal. All information that patients see should match what staff sees and update in real-time.
Don’t Forget About Staff Convenience
Along with ensuring the patient payment experience is easy and convenient, you must also ensure that staff experience the same convenience, too. Be sure to have one place for staff to see all patient payments without having multiple logins or portals from which to pull information. Your staff should also be able to access robust reporting tools that offer clear visibility into where payments are coming from and what the collection status is of each payment. Healthcare organizations can also integrate payment activity across multiple systems to eliminate the need for staff to manually process payments and enter payment data.
As a result, you reduce the time it takes to process payments and open up the opportunity for your staff to collect more payments, since integrated payment functionality enables staff to collect payments at every patient interaction point. Additionally, if your patient payment solution is creating an operational mess for your staff, you should consider an alternative. Basic requirements for your patient payment solution should include the ability to deposit funds directly into your existing bank account(s) and automatically post and reconcile payment information into your existing system(s). This enables you to offer a convenient consumer experience while streamlining the process for your staff – ultimately cutting costs.
Overall your payment experience needs to benefit all stakeholders including providers, staff and patients. Don’t forget about things like operational workflow, integration, security and compliance when it comes to simplifying the patient payments process. Be sure to work with a vendor that is committed to delivering all of this, plus a great patient experience.