In the following Q&A, Tomer Shoval, founder and CEO of Simplee, explains why discussions like those that took place at the Healthcare Consumerism Symposium should be happening at all provider organizations.
In what ways is the patient experience becoming an even more important factor in the healthcare revenue cycle?
Health care is catching up with other industries in thinking of their consumers—their patients—as their most valuable asset and focusing on delighting them. Transforming patient financial care from a pain point to a competitive advantage is a huge way to achieve that.
Today, out-of-pocket healthcare costs are one of the most difficult financial burdens that many people face. Over 50 percent of patients with private insurance now face a deductible of over $1,000. That’s a huge burden when you consider that two-thirds of households have less than $1,000 in savings.
It’s absolutely critical that health systems create a financial care experience that makes healthcare bills easier to understand, to ease the burden on the patient. We’ve seen that when patients understand their bills and are satisfied with their financial experience at the health system, they are twice as likely to pay their bill in full. Creating a great patient financial experience isn’t just the right thing to do for the patient; it also pays off for the revenue cycle.
What are some best practices for providers to use in creating high-quality patient experiences?
A great mantra for health systems to think about is to give each patient the experience that best meets their needs. Personalization starts with how patients engage with their bills. Increasingly, consumers view and pay bills digitally, and it’s no surprise they expect to be able to do the same with their healthcare bills. We’ve seen our health system clients actually decrease the number of paper statements they send to patients as a result of patients responding to emails about their bills and paying before anything needs to be printed. We’ve also seen huge adoption by patients of mobile form factors and have clients that see nearly half of their bill views occurring on a mobile device.
Personalized payment options and targeted payment plans are other key ways to meet patient needs. Why offer a payment plan to a patient who has the capacity to pay their bill in full? And for the patient who owes several thousand dollars and has lower financial capacity, how much will a short-term plan with high monthly payments help? We’ve seen that providers offering plans with monthly payments that best fit a patient’s capacity to pay can significantly drive up collections.
How can financial care be better integrated into patient care?
Patients already view financial care as being closely connected to clinical care. We’ve seen that patients who are very satisfied with a health system’s billing process are five times more likely to recommend their provider to others. Health systems can better integrate financial care by providing early transparency on out-of-pocket costs and addressing affordability in the preservice experience. This means not just producing a patient cost estimate but matching that with a personalized payment offering that helps that patient plan for payment.
What metrics can be used to assess this effort? What sets high-performing providers apart from others in this respect?
Patient satisfaction, or a loyalty metric like net promoter score, is a key metric that high-performing providers focus on. Satisfaction is the right bar for a patient-obsessed organization to strive for, and it leads to financial outcomes like faster time to collect and lower cost to collect.
What do you hope were the key takeaways from the Healthcare Consumerism Symposium?
I think HFMA President and CEO Joe Fifer put it well in his opening fireside chat when he said, “Building trust [with patients] is worth the investment—it really is.”
A few specific themes that I hope others took away from the Symposium:
- The healthcare industry is evolving, and it’s important to offer personalized patient experiences.
- Providers need a higher sense of urgency to invest in better patient financial care.
- Creating patient loyalty is crucial in a world where consumers increasingly have various care options.