Sending healthcare bills in the mail is costly and inefficient. eStatements enable you to eliminate manual steps and accelerate cash flow. Find out how you can use electronic billing to simplify processes and save valuable time and money.
The ongoing rise in patient financial responsibility puts a strain on stakeholders across the healthcare industry, who must work harder than ever on billing and payments activities.
Current data shows that nearly half of all providers cannot collect balances of more than $400 within 30 days,1 and 70% report that it takes more than a month to collect after a patient encounter.2
Beyond higher patient balances, paper billing continues to weigh down healthcare payment processes. Paper bills are inefficient because they require your staff to print and mail the statements manually. You also need to account for the time it takes for mail delivery. When there are many bills to send, this process quickly becomes expensive as you factor in paper, printing, postage and administrative costs.
Meet Consumer Preferences with Online Healthcare Bills
Manual payment methods slow down the collection process and don’t meet current consumer preferences. This is clear when you consider these three statistics from InstaMed’s Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report:
90% of consumers pay recurring bills online
75% of consumers say they want to enroll in eStatements
74% of consumers prefer online payments for medical bills
Today’s consumers want to receive and pay medical bills via the same convenient digital options they have with their other bills. Despite the demand for digital channels, 76% percent of healthcare providers still use paper and manual processes for collections.3
This disconnect affects the patient experience and can hurt a provider’s bottom line. When a provider fails to meet consumer preferences, their patients may speak with their feet and switch to another provider that offers the experience they want.
Enabling secure and convenient online billing and payment options helps to strengthen patient engagement and build patient satisfaction. Here are five tips to help increase eStatement adoption:
Collect Patient Information to Drive Digital Communications
When implementing digital options like eStatements, you need to collect certain patient information, such as an email address and a mobile phone number for text messages. Be sure to ask about preferences for how a patient wants to receive bills and notifications.
You can gather this information when a patient calls to make an appointment, in person when a patient comes in to receive a healthcare service, or online through a patient portal. To further streamline processes you can ask patients to save a card on file so that balances under a certain amount are automatically collected.
It’s important to maintain current information, and you’ll want to confirm the patient data is valid on a periodic basis.
Let Your Patients Know You Offer eStatements
Once you’re set up for electronic billing, you’ll want to let patients know they can receive eStatements instead of paper bills.
You can promote eStatements through various communications, including email, newsletters, phone menus, appointment reminders, office signage, and paper billing statements as well as on your website and patient portal. When patients come in for a healthcare service, take advantage of these face-to-face encounters and ask patients to sign up for eStatements.
Train and educate your staff on how to talk about eStatements
Ensure that your administrative staff is prepared to speak to patients with clear and helpful information about eStatements. Talking points can cover how online billing is convenient, secure and environmentally friendly.
Support your staff with scripted responses to common questions and concerns patients may have about digital billing. For instance, if a patient is worried about the security of e-bills, you can explain how the digital statements can only be accessed through a password-protected system. This is much safer than paper bills, which can be lost or stolen when sent through the mail.
Make It Easy for Patients to Sign Up for and Use eStatements
One of the selling points for eStatements is that they simplify processes. You want to live up to that promise by making the sign-up process quick and convenient.
The statement itself needs to be easy to understand. It should be formatted to clearly indicate what services are being billed for, what part of the cost is owed by the patient and include a way to pay online.
Know Your Patient Demographics
Different patients have different communication preferences. For example, while Millennials may prefer online payments, Baby Boomers may rely more on paper bills and paying by check. Still, although some Baby Boomers may be reluctant to embrace certain technologies, the vast majority use the internet and have a smartphone.4
Make it a point to understand the preferences that different demographics may have for healthcare payments. Use this knowledge to engage with patients on their own terms. Doing so can increase patient satisfaction and help you to get paid faster.
Success Story: How a Healthcare Organization Improved Collections with eStatements
Many providers are seeing the benefits of eliminating paper from their billing and payments process. Dallas Nephrology Associates (DNA) is a national leader in delivering comprehensive care for patients with kidney disease, transplants and hypertension. The practice was experiencing high patient A/R due to increasing patient financial responsibility and confusion over healthcare bills.
DNA found that many of their patients didn’t understand what they owed or how they could pay. As a result, the practice experienced high print and mail costs from sending out multiple statements per patient balance to collect. Also, the staff at DNA spent significant time and effort with patients in the office and over the phone explaining costs and taking payments manually.
DNA determined they needed simpler ways to help patients understand their payment responsibility, make it easy for patients to pay, and reduce the time and costs associated with paper billing. The DNA team knew that their patient statements were a critical touchpoint for financial engagement, and they wanted to improve this touchpoint to reduce patient confusion and drive online payments.
DNA decided to partner with InstaMed to evaluate its billing processes. Following this analysis, DNA made a key change to their patient statements by eliminating the tear slip and return envelope for check payments, which are less convenient for patients and burdensome for staff. At the same time, they implemented a new, consumer-tested statement design from InstaMed, with clear messaging that helped patients understand what they owe and how they can easily pay online.
Ed Davis, Director of Information Technology at DNA, praised the benefits of their new patient statements saying, “We’ve received very positive feedback on the new look and feel of our InstaMed patient statements. Plus, by removing the tear stub and return envelope, we’ve significantly increased online payments and patient portal usage.”
Even though they removed the tear stub and return envelope, DNA knew that some patients may still want to pay by check. DNA included messaging on statements and office signage to encourage patients to sign up for eStatements and pay online with a debit or credit card, but they also let patients know they could pay by electronic check.
Overall, DNA experienced a three times increase in their online payments and a four times increase in patients enrolled in eStatements. They decreased their staff time and effort to collect payments by 20 percent and were very happy with the results.
You can get the full case study below, to learn more about the Dallas Nephrology Associates success story:
4 Pew Research Center, Share of those 65 and older who are tech users has grown in the past decade