No one likes rejection; but, providers who can’t deliver the consumer-friendly experiences their patients expect are more likely to see their patient recruitment and retention suffer. According to a recent study from West, 74% of patients put off seeing their providers when they are not completely satisfied with their experience, and 88% of patients said they would switch providers if dissatisfied.
Why are patients dissatisfied with their healthcare experience? A lack of convenience and confidence in the healthcare payments process can significantly influence a patient’s overall impression of their provider. You need to be aware of how the payments experience you’re delivering could be hurting your relationship with your patients. Here are three reasons your patients are leaving you in search of a better experience – plus a few tips to help you innovate your way towards loyal, paying patients.
- They Don’t Trust You With Their Payment Information
Data breaches in healthcare are becoming increasingly common, and your patients are starting to notice. 2016 saw more healthcare data breaches than any other year on record, and ransomware – a type of malware that freezes an organization’s entire system until a ransom is paid to the hackers – increased by 36% last year. According to the Seventh Annual Trends in Healthcare Payments Report, 50% of patients would switch providers if they found out their records were stolen. If your organization experiences a data breach, not only do you face millions of dollars in fines and high operational costs for your compliance team, you also significantly damage the trust your patients have in your business.What can you do? Never forget that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Every payment transaction is a potential vulnerability where data could be at risk. You need to make sure every payment interaction point where a credit card is involved is secure. Use payment card devices that leverage point-to-point encryption (P2PE) for card-present and card-not-present transactions. For online payments, be sure you understand your PCI scope.
- They Can’t Get Access to Their Information Easily
Your patients like to make payments online. When surveyed, 81% of consumers indicated that they prefer to pay their household bills online, and more than half indicated that they prefer an online payment channel as an option for healthcare bills as well (Trends in Healthcare Payments Seventh Annual Report: 2016). However, a great consumer payment experience isn’t just about enabling online payments – you need to go a step further to deliver on patient expectations. Think about other online experiences where your patients manage payments, like Amazon, Venmo and PayPal, or a mobile banking site. Payments on these sites aren’t isolated “one-and-done” incidents – they’re one piece of an overall online payments experience that delivers simplicity and convenience to consumers and keeps them returning to the site to make and manage payments. If your online payment option doesn’t offer patients anything beyond simply making a payment, then you aren’t delivering an experience that is going to encourage continued use and create patient engagement.What can you do? When your patients pay their healthcare bills online, make sure you are giving them access to the information and tools they need to manage their payments. This includes features like the ability to store payment methods in a digital wallet, access payment history, view and print payment receipts, visibility and control over payment plans, and the ability to manage multiple bills for different procedures or family members with one login.
- They’re Confused by Their Medical Bills
Healthcare bills are confusing. According to the Trends in Healthcare Payments Seventh Annual Report, 74% of consumers said they were confused by their medical bills. Only 7% of consumers in the U.S. can accurately define terms like plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum. And, as the industry moves toward more electronic and online transactions, sometimes bills get more complicated instead of simplified. For example, say your patient receives a paper statement, logs in to your patient portal and makes a payment online, but then receives another paper bill in the mail anyway a few weeks later. Now the patient is confused and frustrated, and you just wasted time and money mailing out a statement trying to collect a payment that was already processed. Not to mention the time your staff now has to spend on the phone with the patient who doesn’t understand why they’re holding a paper bill in their hands for a balance they already took care of online.Moving paper bills and payments online should make the healthcare payments experience simpler, not more complex. The information a patient sees on their mobile phone or online must be accurate and match up across all information sources you make available. The reason for inaccurate information has to do with the way you’ve set up online payments. If you simply plug in a standalone solution that doesn’t connect the end-to-end experience, you end up creating inconsistencies that confuse and complicate things for both patients and staff.
What can you do? Work with a full stack vendor that can integrate your billing and payment to ensure consistency across all patient touchpoints. Paper statements, eStatements, automated communications, receipts and staff-facing reporting should all have the same, accurate information about every patient balance. This way, when your patient makes a payment online, they won’t experience errors like multiple bills for the same payment. If a patient calls asking about a payment they made online three months ago, your staff should be able to easily look into payment history and access the same information that the patient is referencing on their payment receipt. If a refund is issued, both patients and staff should be able to access refund receipts online through a simple search.
When billing is clear, patients are happier. Happy patients can mean higher patient retention and recruitment for your organization, as patients who are satisfied with billing are five times more likely to recommend a provider. (2015 Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey) Ultimately, this benefits your bottom line, as healthcare organizations with excellent HCAHPS patient ratings consistently have higher margins.
End the rejection and start leveraging innovation to create satisfied, returning patients. Learn more about patient expectations and other challenges facing healthcare organizations – download your copy of the Seventh Annual Trends in Healthcare Payments Report today!