Larry Buller Jr.: Before we talk about a blank check item, what can be implemented quickly and at a low cost is improving communications about obligations and methods of payment. Many providers still struggle to produce a patient-friendly statement that clearly communicates the services received, the rendering providers, an accurate balance, insurance processing details, and online bill pay instructions. It should take a patient less than three minutes to pay their bill. Can you say confidently that your patients can pay their bills in less than three minutes? Ask yourself these four questions and you will either be relieved or frustrated:
- How many times did you mistype the website name or the account number?
- Can you see the statement?
- Is there an option to opt into a payment plan without speaking to a representative?
- Can you enter the payment information easily?
A more costly and labor-intensive project is to implement an interactive voice response (IVR) technology, which routes callers to an easy to navigate automated phone messaging system that suggests self-service options. This technology is heavily utilized successfully in other industries, but most healthcare providers overlook it even though the statistics show that patients still want to pay their bill over the phone. A larger win with significant capital needs is identifying a patient’s preference to pay with a devoted marketing strategy.
Providers could also use a technical approach and implement smart algorithms or aggregate multiple data sources to glean insights on patient preferences. In the long run, providers that segment patients by their bill pay preferences can promote prompt payment via individualized communication channels.