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For patients to be ready and willing to make payments, they must understand what’s owed, why it’s owed, when it’s due, and they must be able to easily take action to settle their accounts. A patient who receives a mailed bill and has questions or perhaps can’t find a stamp to place on the return envelope has the potential to become a slow- or no-pay customer.
Enter the electronic patient statement.
Electronic statements or e-statements are the modern take on traditional, mailed statements. Delivered digitally—typically via email—electronic statements circumvent physical mailboxes and land in the virtual inboxes of today’s constantly connected consumers. They serve as cost-effective, immediate touch points with patients who are adopting electronic payment and account management processes at a fast pace across the board.
E-statements are interactive portable document files or iPDFs that are best used as part of a total electronic patient financial communications solution. iPDFs stand in place of traditional, mailed bills and function like customized user interfaces that open in default web browsers of the computing devices on which they are activated. They must be accessed through security layers to ensure protection of sensitive healthcare information (The Future of Edelivery, Emdeon, 2013).
As this mode of financial communications hits its stride, it’s important to start with an intentional design; electronic statements are received and viewed differently, so they should be designed differently.
Here are tips to help providers achieve even more clarity of information and make it easier for patients to pay.
Do not simply convert existing, traditional statements to PDF format when creating electronic statements. Use every design element to encourage interaction and evoke response. Infuse personalized messaging and clickable calls to action, as well as branding for the organization.
Include response triggers. Use buttons, live links, mouseover text, and hyperlinked graphics to inspire clicks. Email marketing professionals report that the use of buttons can result in more clicks, so placing a “pay now” button prominently on statements has potential to measurably improve results.
Prioritize personalization. Providers can target information to recipients in easy-to-customize electronic statements. From specific wellness messaging to custom reminders, providers have the chance to make financial communications more meaningful. These elements can link to more information online to keep patients engaged. There’s a variety of personalized features that can be included in e-statements.
Invite two-way communications. Include contact forms and live email links to make statements an open door to two-way communications. As providers try to reduce billing-related call volumes, electronic inquiries can be helpful in filtering questions and responding in more manageable ways, while also giving patients the power to submit questions at their convenience.
A recent focus group study conducted revealed that patients want statements that offer clear summaries of their billing upfront, supported by detail pages (“Effective Patient Statements” White Paper, Emdeon, 2013). When providers present both elements upfront, patients perceive costs to be more transparent and understandable. This can lead to reduction in the volume of inbound calls for clarification that can burden customer staffs and inspire more trust between patients and providers.
Start e-statements with a summary page that makes it simple to identify what’s owed and when it’s due. By using a good layout with color and call-outs, as well as mouseover/hover text, providers can guide recipients’ experiences with their statements. Use of intentional design will help patients visually take notice of key pieces of information at a glance. Include interactive buttons that click through to an online payment portal. Communication is visual, so the look and layout are vital to how information is conveyed.
Continue the clear lay-out through to detail pages, as well. Be consistent in the chronological presentation of charges. Use font sizes that are readable for people of all ages. If not using color on subsequent pages, incorporate bold, underlined, and italicized text to draw attention to certain information. There’s no limit to the interactive functionality that can be present on detail pages, so consider including “pay now” button throughout for convenience.
Forty-seven percent of email is viewed on mobile devices today, so bear this in mind when creating both email messages and associated web pages (Study of 250 Million Email Opens, Litmus, 2013). It’s best to employ responsive design so that layouts automatically detect the type of device on which they’re being viewed and fluidly configure to fit the appropriate screens.
Mobile-friendly design is grounded in functionality more than aesthetics. Messaging optimized for mobile access will typically be a simpler design of the desktop version, incorporating easy-tap buttons and hierarchal arrangement of content that works with or without images and graphics. The easy-tap buttons can be key to making immediate payments from mobile devices possible. It’s essential that click-throughs from e-statements lead to payment portals that are easy to navigate on mobile devices in order to garner the best boost in collections.
Respondents in the previously mentioned focus group study were clear about design elements that didn’t work: For example, patients didn’t care for stock photos of smiling medical professionals (Effective Patient Statements, Emdeon, 2013). They resoundingly stated that inclusion of such design elements was as unappealing as it was unnecessary. In contrast, the participants voiced positive perspectives regarding use of color and call-outs to help navigate their bills to find key information.
There’s no denying that the future of health care is being driven by electronic initiatives and increased consumerism. E-statements hit on all marks, serving as a cost-effective, nimble mode of patient financial communications, and providing today’s patients/consumers quick access to the payment management tools they expect. Providers who take the lead with e-statements are poised to enjoy improved collections—by design.
Emdeon is a provider of revenue and payment cycle management and clinical information exchange solutions that connect payers, providers, and patients in the U.S. healthcare system.
Publication Date: Monday, March 17, 2014
A leader from McKesson discusses how healthcare reform is forcing hospitals and health systems to take a different approach to capacity management and patient flow.
Patient financial engagement is more challenging than ever – and more critical. With patient responsibility as a percentage of revenue on the rise, providers have seen their billing-related costs and accounts receivable levels increase. If increasing collection yield and reducing costs are a priority for your organization, the metrics outlined in this presentation will provide the framework you need to understand what’s working and what’s not, in order to guide your overall patient financial engagement initiatives and optimize results.
Emad Rizk, MD, president and CEO of Accretive Health, discusses the uncertainty facing hospitals and the transitions affecting revenue cycle management.
No two patients are the same. Each has a very personal healthcare experience, and each has distinct financial needs and preferences that have an impact on how, when and if they chose to pay their healthcare bill. It’s no longer effective to apply static billing techniques to solve the complex challenge of collecting balances from patients. The need to tailor financial conversations and payment options to individual needs and preferences is critical. This presentation provides 10 recommendations that will not only help you improve payment performance through a more tailored approach, but take control of rising collection costs.
Jim Bohnsack, vice president, solution & corporate development for Conifer Health Solutions, explains how the company helps healthcare providers leverage data to deliver better outcomes while optimizing reimbursement for all payment arrangements.
This white paper, written by Apex Vice President of Solutions and Services, Carrie Romandine, discusses the importance of patient segmentation and messaging specifically related to the patient revenue cycle. Applying strategic messaging that is tailored to each patient type will not only better educate consumers on payment options specific to their billing needs, but it will maximize the amount collected before sending to collections. Further, targeted messaging should be applied across all points of patient interaction (i.e. point of service, customer service, patient statements) and analyzed regularly for maximized results.
Steve Scibetta, senior director of channel sales for Ontario Systems' healthcare product line, shares insights into effectively managing receivables.
This white paper, written by Apex President Patrick Maurer, discusses methods to increase patient adoption of online payments. Providers are now seeking ways to incrementally collect more payments due from patients as well as speeding up the rate of collections. This white paper shows why patient-centric approaches to online payment portals are important complements to traditional provider-centric approaches.
Elena White, vice president of risk, quality, and network solutions for Optum, discusses how healthcare providers can leverage data and technology as they enable risk in their organization.
Increased electronic engagement between healthcare providers and patients provides significant opportunities for improving revenue cycle metrics and encouraging patients to access EHRs. This article, written by Apex Founder and CEO Brian Kueppers, explores a number of strategies to create synergy between patient billing, online payment portals and electronic health record (EHR) software to realize a high ROI in speed to payment, patient satisfaction and portal adoption for meaningful use.
Somnia President and CEO Marc Koch, MD, MBA, explains how hospitals can drive transformative change in the perioperative experience for outstanding clinical and financial outcomes.
Faced with a rising tide of bad debt, a large Southeastern healthcare system was seeing a sharp decline in net patient revenues. The need to improve collections was dire. By integrating critical tools and processes, the health system was able to increase online payments and improve its financial position. Taking a holistic approach increased overall collection yield by 10% while costs came down because the number of statements sent to patients fell by 10%, which equated to a $1.3M annualized improvement in patient cash over a six-month period. This case study explains how.
PMMC President Roger L. Shaul discusses the effects of healthcare reform on revenue cycle management and how PMMC's products help clients adapt to a changing financial environment.
With the ICD10 deadline quickly approaching and daily responsibilities not slowing down, final preparations for October 1 require strategic prioritization and laser focus.
Greg Burgess, Founder and Chief Product Officer at Burgess Group shares insights and opportunities for payment integrity in the rapidly changing healthcare IT landscape.
Read how Gwinnett Medical Center provides clear connections to financial information, offers multiple payment options for patients, and gives onsite staff the ability to collect payments at multiple points throughout the care process.
Read how Orlando Health was able to perform deeper dives into claims data to help the health system see claim rejections more quickly–even on the front end–and reduce A/R days.
To maintain fiscal fitness and boost patient satisfaction and loyalty, healthcare providers need visibility into when and how much they will be paid–by whom–and the ability to better navigate obstacles to payment. They need payment clarity. This whitepaper illuminates this concept that is winning fans at forward-thinking hospitals.
Financial services staff are always looking for ways to improve the verification, billing and collections processes, and Munson Healthcare is no different. Read about how they streamlined the billing process to produce cleaner bills on the front end and helped financial services staff collect more than $1 million in additional upfront annual revenue in one year.
Effective revenue cycle management can be a challenge for any hospital, but for smaller providers it is even tougher. Read how Wallace Thomson identified unreimbursed procedures, streamlined claims management, and improved its ability to determine charity eligibility.
Before launching an energy-efficiency initiative, it’s important to build a solid business case and understand the funding options and potential incentives that are available. Healthcare leaders should consider taking the steps outlined in the whitepaper to ease the process of gaining approval, piloting, implementing, and supporting sustainability projects. You will find that investing in sustainability and energy efficiency helps hospitals add cash to their bottom line. Discover how hospitals and health systems have various options for funding energy-efficient and renewable-energy initiatives, depending on their current financial structure and strategy.
Health care is a dynamic mergers and acquisitions market with numerous hospitals and health systems contemplating or pursuing formal arrangements with other entities. These relationships often pose a strategic benefit, such as enhancing competencies across the continuum, facilitating economies of scale, or giving the participants a competitive advantage in a crowded market. Underpinning any profitable acquisition is a robust capital planning strategy that ensures an organization reserves sufficient funds and efficiently onboards partners that advance the enterprise mission and values.
The success of healthcare mergers, acquisitions, and other affiliations is predicated in part on available capital, and the need for and sources of funding are considerations present throughout the partnering process, from choosing a partner to evaluating an arrangement’s capital needs to selecting an integration model to finding the right money source to finance the deal. This whitepaper offers several strategies that health system leaders have used to assess and manage capital needs for their growing networks.
Copyright 2016, Healthcare Financial Management Association.
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