Nine in 10 consumers were surprised by a medical bill last year, according to the Trends in Healthcare Payments Ninth Annual Report. For providers, the results of the disconnect are clear. Not only are patients reporting high levels of confusion and frustration, but their payments are delayed as well. For providers, there is an opportunity to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to present a medical bill that is personalized to the patient’s payment preferences. A smart medical bill better engages patients in their payments journey to improve their experience as well as their likelihood to pay. Here’s a quick how-to guide to getting started with smart medical bills.
Step 1 to Smart Medical Bills: Understanding Personalization
Personalization can mean many things to different entities. Simply adding a name, phone number and mailing address is a form of personalization. However, patients are much more than just their contact information. The real key to personalization is digging into a patient’s individual preferences. When it comes to medical bills, preferences are often shaped by payment history and demographic information. For example, a middle-aged person living in a suburban town with a large family who has frequent doctor appointments probably won’t want to pay the same way as a single person in a major city who only goes to annual check-ups.
Step 2 to Smart Medical Bills: Steal Best Practices From Other Industries
Can you imagine a medical billing department of a large hospital trying to keep track of different payment preferences in a spreadsheet? Even with v-lookups and other Excel magic, that would be nearly impossible. Instead of relying on manual processes as usual, providers can steal a page out of the playbook from heavy hitters in other industries – leveraging machine learning and AI to personalize content. The best example of personalized content is Netflix, which uses an algorithm to constantly suggest optimal content for the viewer. The result is the 21st century phenomena of binge-watching. In the financial sector, there are countless examples to draw from, such as top suggestions on large shopping sites and discounted membership fees to targeted audiences at local aquariums.
Step 3 to Smart Medical Bills: Who Is Your Patient?
Typically, patients enjoy a one-to-one relationship with their healthcare provider during the clinical side of their experience. Medical professionals can review patient records and perform physical exams to determine the best course of treatment for their patients. To maintain that personalized approach, smart medical bills draw from financial and engagement profiles to better understand the patient and present a bill they are most comfortable with paying. Even if that patient has never received a medical bill from that provider, those profiles draw from third-party data for the most current preferences of the patient. So instead of presenting the patient with a flat one-size-fits-all amount due, a smart bill leverages existing data to present the payment options that the patient will use, including automated payment plans.
Step 4 to Smart Medical Bills: Payment Assurance
Smart medical bills have the potential to engage patients in their payment journey like never before and take the surprise out of medical bills for patients. However, providers have much to gain here as well. By offering online and automated payment options to patients who are used to paying bills that way, providers increase payments and reduce friction with their patients. Additionally, those payment channels collect the payment without help of staff to reduce costs as well.