How to deliver a personalized billing experience with RCM process automation

A patient's billing experience affects overall satisfaction and perception of a provider. According to a recent survey by Patient Engagement HIT, 93 percent of patients say a negative billing experience could dissuade them from returning to a healthcare provider. In contrast, patients who are satisfied with their hospital billing process are five times more likely to recommend the facility to a friend.

In a workshop sponsored by Zotec at the Becker's Hospital Review 12th Annual Meeting, Sarah Mountford, Zotec's vice president of client services, discussed changing patient expectations and behaviors affecting billing and described the role that revenue cycle management solutions can play in personalizing the billing experience, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty.

Three key takeaways:

  1. Patients' bill-paying expectations are changing. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how patients think about healthcare. As a result of COVID, there is increased use of online appointment scheduling, telehealth and tele-pay. "The patient experience is front and center in ways it wasn't before COVID," Ms. Mountford said, "and the new norm is online."

    Patients' expectations have also changed related to billing. According to Managed Healthcare Executive, 59 percent of patients expect healthcare digital experiences similar to retail and 75 percent won't pay their bill if it is confusing. What patients want and expect in paying their bills, according to EConsultancy's "The Consumerization of Healthcare" report, is empathy, security in data and payment management, and easy-to-use solutions.

  1. Patient bill care has four key components. These components focus on convenience, personalization, use of technology and trust. They are:

    -Anytime, anywhere, any way. Patients want to be able to pay for their service whenever and wherever they want, which might be via text, email, chat, a phone call or a paper bill.

    -Personalized and authentic. There is no one-size-fits-all for effective bill payment. The key is to understand each individual patient. Zotec's understanding of patients comes from interacting with tens of thousands of patients each day. Zotec has developed patient personas that are used to train the customer service reps who speak with patients

    -Innovative solutions to improve bad debt. This includes RCM automation and payment plans. Ms. Mountford said that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Zotec has seen a 184 percent increase in people using payment plans; 59 percent of patients pay in full when offered a payment plan.

    -Trust. Trust is based on accuracy of a bill as well as compliance and security.

  1. RCM technology can enhance the patient experience while reducing bad debt. "Using machine learning, we can optimize revenue and decrease the need to involve patients in the billing process," Ms. Mountford said. RCM technology can ensure that bills are accurate and can intelligently time claims that otherwise would have gone to bad debt. One feature of Zotec's RCM technology is "coverage detection," which runs denied claims through a global database to match with accurate data. Previously denied claims can then be refiled and paid.

"We have to recognize that the power has shifted to our patients. We need to listen to what they are saying, what they need from us and meet them on their terms in the revenue cycle process. And then you need to make sure your revenue cycle technology can keep up with that," Ms. Mountford said. "If you focus on creating an easy, personalized patient experience in bill care, you're going to optimize your revenue but you're also going to keep your patients happy and keep them coming back to you."

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