Improve Collections Through Better Patient Engagement in 2021

As vaccination rates rise and the U.S. begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, medical practices are assessing what their “new normal” looks like in a post-pandemic business environment. Regardless of the specific business challenges individual practices may face, patient engagement is certain to be a critical component of providers’ playbooks as they endeavor to strengthen their financial positions. Through better patient engagement, providers can build more trust and loyalty, improve patient retention, produce better health outcomes – and ultimately improve collection rates. In 2021, strong patient engagement is likely to become even more essential to financial success, because unpredictable fluctuations in patient volumes represent the single-biggest risk to maintaining long-term revenue cycle continuity, according to a survey of healthcare providers from the Healthcare Financial Management Association. As a result, it is more critical than ever that providers find new methods of engaging patients in the payment process, a topic Sphere explored in the eBook “5 Reasons Engaged Patients are Better-Paying Patients.” Following are some highlights from the eBook, including 3 reasons why better engagement leads to more reliable payment:
  1. Patients who understand their bills better are more likely to pay them. Many patients don’t avoid paying bills because they can’t pay; they avoid paying because don’t understand what they owe and why they owe it. That’s why it is important to engage all patients – regardless of treatment – by communicating to them before an appointment the how and why of what they’ll be charged, what insurance will cover, and what their out-of-pocket responsibility is.
  2. Communicating payment details earlier in the process leads to better engagement and improved collections. Timing is a key element. It is essential that providers capture payment before the patient leaves the office, or else the chances of that patient paying promptly drop substantially. When sending appointment reminders, do not simply ask whether the patient plans to show up on time. Include a link that verifies insurance and demographic information and indicates the anticipated payment details such as charges, copay and effect on patient’s deductible.
  3. Offering omnichannel payment options that cater to all patient preferences helps build patient loyalty. Communicating with patients on their terms using their preferred communication methods is key to engagement and reducing the lag between billing and payment. An omnichannel approach can include communications and payment acceptance via email, call center, Interactive Voice Response, paper, kiosks, point of service, guest pay, payment plans, and text message.
With the challenges associated with COVID-19 and a recovering economy, patient collections will likely remain an obstacle to providers’ financial success into the foreseeable future. However, by improving patient engagement with clear pre-visit communication, convenient and flexible payment options, and greater price transparency providers gain a competitive advantage that can help boost collection rates. To read Sphere’s eBook 5 Reasons Engaged Patients are Better-Paying Patients click below:
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