Simplified Solutions from Emdeon, sponsor of the Patient Friendly Billing newsletter
Customize billing statements to connect with patients.
Say the term "patient statement" to someone, and it'll likely conjure thoughts of a complex and confusing document listing cryptic codes and phrases capped with the verdict known as the "AMOUNT DUE."
Perhaps it's the word "statement" that's been the sticking point. By definition, statements are declarative-one-sided conveyances of often impersonal information. They certainly don't open the door for conversation or questions.
In today's consumer-driven healthcare environment, there's little room for "period, end of sentence" approaches. The generic patient statement of the past is no longer effective or even acceptable. Our industry is embracing innovative ways to give touches of humanity to patient statements using content customization, direct messaging, and visual cues.
When patients are engaged and able to easily understand their statement, patient satisfaction rises and the risk of bad debt is decreased. Here are a few ideas for your organization to transform financial documents into engaging, patient-specific communications tools.
Fill in the Blank
Create a blank field on your statement template to allow for patient-specific notes that can be customized at the individual, batch, or population levels. Both the logic to determine which message is inserted and the actual messaging itself can be specified by you. Suggested uses include:
- Offering financial counseling for large balances above a certain threshold.
- For past-due balances, include reminders of the number of previous statements issued. If applicable, providers can also list the date when the patient's account may be placed into collections.
- Communicating information about seasonally relevant health issues such as flu shots during the fall and spring.
- Communicating additional health services available based on the services currently being billed. For example, patients with charges for pediatric immunizations on their current statement could receive additional information about services available for children such as hearing tests and vision screenings.
Communication is visual, and the layout and design of a statement does matter when conveying patient-specific information. Work with your patient billing vendor to adjust the placement of key data and text on the page. Reordering content will aid in drawing the eyes of recipients to key information first.
Consider the use of fresh colors and friendlier fonts for your statements. Patient statements of the past were often nondescript in appearance-unappealing to recipients. The injection of color and more engaging typefaces does more than make statements look better; these elements can strategically call out key information and make content more readable. Colors can also be helpful in conveying account aging and urgency, evolving from a pastel palette for initial invoices to more striking oranges or reds for overdue bills.
Put the Fine Print in Large-Print
Many providers have sizable elderly patient populations. The use of larger font sizes accommodates the needs of these patients for whom fine print would be a hindrance. With legible and visually clear content, patients with ailing or failing eyesight can better read billing statements and feel more confident about their accounts and payment requirements.
Revisit the word choices on your statements, and change financial-speak to plain language wherever possible. Using principles applicable to retail environments, offer words of thanks prominently, and personalize content with name references. Alter the tone as needed to effectively communicate account aging and overdue status, as well.
Let's face it. Patient billing statements will never be considered light reading. Yet with personalized touches and customization, we can make them more understandable, engaging, and effective. Taking the effort to humanize these necessary financial documents says something about your organization's commitment to patient care beyond the clinical setting, and that's a positive statement, indeed.
Call 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) or visit us online to discover how Emdeon ExpressBill Services can help improve cash flow through customizable, four-color statement printing and mailing.
Publication Date: Monday, September 27, 2010