3 tips to uncomplicate patient financial engagement

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Hospitals across the U.S. are setting out to improve patient financial engagement to boost patient experience and cash collections. While many healthcare organizations say they are on a mission to simplify the process, a RevSpring leader believes that simplifying engagement is not enough.

"Our view is that simplicity really underrepresents the problem because patient financial engagement is not simple, it's inherently complex," Kristen Jacobsen, vice president of marketing and omnichannel engagement at RevSpring, said in an April 27 webinar.

In the webinar, sponsored by RevSpring and hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, Ms. Jacobsen discussed five key complications to patient financial engagement and ways to uncomplicate the process to drive better outcomes at a lower cost. 

Here are three best practices to uncomplicate patient engagement:

1. Create multiple digital doorways and connect them. The reality is that the patient financial journey is nonlinear, and patients can enter it in multiple ways. Instead of focusing on providing one digital front door, focus on providing digital doorways in the plural, Ms. Jacobsen said. Having multiple ways for patients to engage can improve the journey and meet patients where they are in their adoption of digital solutions, Ms. Jacobsen said. Providers should ensure these doorways are always open, attractive, user-friendly and most important, connected, Ms. Jacobsen added. 

2. Analyze data, past behavior to understand patient preferences. A recent study found that 66 percent of patients said they would switch providers if they had a poor payment experience, highlighting the importance of understanding patient preferences, Ms. Jacobsen said. Providers can set out to understand patient preferences in communication and bill-paying options by analyzing data as well as past payment behavior, Ms. Jacobsen said. RevSpring can help providers understand how patients pay, when patients typically pay, what they pay, based on data from the past, and where they pay, such as a patient portal or via mail after a printed bill. 

"The more data you have, the more you collect, the more and better your insight is, and the more you can match patient expectations to your engagement and payment strategies," Ms. Jacobsen said.

3. Consolidate charges from a patient encounter into one bill. A healthcare visit typically involves multiple procedures and can result in patients receiving multiple, separate bills, Ms. Jacobsen said. This was a challenge OhioHealth in Columbus sought to overcome. To improve the patient financial experience and boost collections, OhioHealth sought to create a uniform experience across its system and consolidate all patient charges, including such items as lab work and anesthesia, into one bill. The health system also added digital payment options and was able to provide better cost estimates to patients. As a result of using RevSpring's solution, the health system increased paperless adoption and boosted collections by $500,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To listen to all five complications and strategies to uncomplicate the patient financial engagement journey, access the full webinar here.

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