The consumerization of healthcare is dramatically changing the equation for providers. Competitive pressure is forcing providers to invest in new technologies and processes designed to improve the patient experience, all while they’re seeking ways to grow revenue.
The goals of providing a better patient experience and increasing revenue are not diametrically opposed. In fact, a stronger provider-patient relationship could be the key to boosting a practice’s bottom line. Advisory Board Company research indicates that 60 percent of the factors driving loyalty in primary care are related to the patient experience, and practices with loyal followings have double the revenue growth of those without.
To build a more loyal patient base at your practice while also increasing collections and revenue, consider the following:
- Improve Communications – It may not always be possible to avoid long wait times for an appointment, but patient frustration can be significantly minimized if practices remain upfront about estimated wait times, or even simply offer an apology for delays. Practices also can shorten appointments by asking patients upfront what questions they have or any concerns they want to address with their doctor. It is also important to have open lines of communications about how much insurance will cover versus the amount patients will have to pay out of pocket for an appointment or procedure.
- Collect and Verify Insurance Information – At every appointment, office staff should collect complete and current insurance information or offer patients the option to provide it by mail, email or via an online patient portal. Having this information enables practices to verify coverage, clarify payer rules before or at the time of care, identify the patients’ responsibility for payment and follow up with them throughout the treatment and billing process.
- Streamline Payment Processes – Convenient payment options (including credit/debit card payments through an online patient portal, cash and check), accurate estimates of total bills and explanations of components of the bill can go a long way in improving patient satisfaction. Happy patients are more likely to pay their bills in full, return to the practice, and recommend it to their friends and family.
- Offer Payment Plans and Don’t Forget to Follow Up – Full payment at the time of service may not be possible for patients who have larger balances or required an expensive procedure. Establish and clearly communicate to patients the payment plans the practice offers and have the processes in place to track payments properly. By working with patients in this way, practices can increase collections and give their patients peace of mind, knowing they will be able to pay for the treatments they need.
Practices should apply these tips to everyday operations, as it provides the chance for them to reap the rewards of both a more loyal patient following and a stronger bottom line. After all, as patients evolve into consumers, their experience with providers is vital… and the healthcare practice’s profitability depends on it.