How a Texas physician group's revenue cycle changes improved patient experience

Patients continue to demand an efficient and effective payment experience, and providers are looking for ways to meet patients' expectations.

An Apex Revenue Technologies survey showed 85 percent of patients view a consistent healthcare billing and payment experience as important, and nearly 30 percent said better personalized reminders about their bill would make them more likely to pay on time.

But Abilene (Texas) Diagnostic Clinic, a multispecialty physician group of about 60 providers, was not meeting these types of patient demands in 2016.

At that time, a third-party bank provided credit card machines for patient payments at each of the group's 30 to 40 locations. ADC also had one vendor focused on statements and another for payment plans.

"It was not consolidated. So the statements are coming from company X. The payments are through the bank. If you want to make a payment plan, you've got to go to another website. It was really disjointed all over the place," says Andrew Kouba, the group's CFO.

The group also didn't offer electronic statements or consolidated bills. Patients received individual statements from each provider, whether it was a lab, primary care physician or specialist. Bills also came at different times, and patients could get four bills within two weeks, all from separate ADC providers.

Mr. Kouba says this all affected ADC's reputation among patients. He could not quantify that with specific data, since the practice does not conduct routine patient satisfaction surveys. However, he says the group received various complaints from patients related to confusion about their bills. He also pointed to an Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey, which showed 47 percent of consumers would switch providers to better make sense of cost upon scheduling and to easily understand and pay medical expenses using a preferred method.

Fixing the issues

ADC improved the patient financial experience by implementing the InstaMed One Bill solution, which consolidated the group's billing data and processes across all locations. Now, ADC can provide patients with a single, consolidated statement that combines balances across ADC's locations and physicians.

Since implementing the InstaMed One Bill solution, Mr. Kouba says the central business office manager has reported fewer billing-related complaints from patients, and patients overall have said their bills are easier to understand.

Additionally, the group's patient cash collections improved 24 percent between 2016 and 2017, and ADC's costs to provide patient statements declined 39 percent during that same time period. Also, 14 percent of the group's outstanding accounts receivable was patient balances in December 2016. The percentage steadily decreased to 2 percent by the end of 2017.  

These results show "if you provide the patient clarity and understanding [with billing] and you simplify the patient responsibility, I think they're going to pay it. It's not that they don't want to pay it. I think it's that they're confused and they think they're getting ripped off by receiving multiple statements," says Mr. Kouba. "So if you make it simple, they're going to pay it, and [if] you tell them upfront [what they will owe] … they're going to pay it."

He views enhancing ADC's online patient portal as the next stage of the group's patient financial experience improvement efforts, with the goal of continuing to build a trusting relationship between the patient and provider. Mr. Kouba says ADC seeks to provide an online payment experience that includes automatic payments, digital wallets and access to transaction history.   

"I know [all of our efforts so far are] a piece of it, but I think if we can continue to build on that convenience and trust, it could yield to great things," he says.

 

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