Patient self-service is great for hospitals – as long as patients actually use the tools being offered.

More patients using self-service means:

A better use of staff resources.

  • The average Customer Service Representative will accept approximately 850 patient payments over the phone, per month. So, for every 850 self-service payments (i.e. online or IVR) a healthcare business office can reallocate the workload of one full-time CSR – improving operational efficiency.

A better patient experience.

  • Quality self-service meets the expectations of today’s healthcare consumer. According to a recent consumer survey, 67% of respondents said they preferred self-service over speaking to an organization representative.

Yet, the unfortunate reality is that many health systems are not seeing these benefits due to a lack of patient adoption.

So, how do you fix it?

How do you get more patients to use your self-service tools and technology?


Increasing self-service with Active Patient Engagement™

Many providers fail to increase patient self-service for one simple reason:

There is no process or system in place to actively monitor and optimize adoption.

Trying to account for all the factors that impact self-service adoption, can be intimidating.

However, using the Active Patient Engagement™ mindset – the approach we advocate here at RevSpring – gives providers a simple framework to make the needed improvements to self-service strategy.


Fogg Behavior Model


Foundational to Active Patient Engagement™ is the Fogg Behavior Model (displayed above).

Originally developed by Dr. B.J. Fogg to show how computers and technology influence behavior change, it has been applied to everything from healthcare wellness programs and education, to app development, sales and website optimization.

For RCM professionals, it offers a simple approach to effective patient engagement.

If a healthcare business office is suffering from low self-service adoption rates, its patient engagement strategy is lacking in one or more of the following areas:

  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Triggers

Here’s a breakdown of these three components and how they apply to self-service adoption.



Put yourself in your patients’ shoes.

Based on your experience and the feedback you receive from patients, what is motivating (or demotivating) them to use self-service?

Some questions to start with might be:

  • How do you make patients aware of your self-service options?
  • Does your billing statement clearly identify the next step(s) a patient should take?
  • What reasons do patients give for not taking action?

When increasing motivation the goal is to make the target behavior – in this case, self-service adoption – align with the patient’s interest.

The key is to identify and address patient objections and roadblocks with cleaner, more precise communication.

Don’t be afraid to use psychology

The most effective patient engagement strategies go a step further and leverage engagement tactics from consumer psychology studies to drive motivation.

Some of the most influential techniques include:

Limited duration – when choosing between action and inaction, providing a limited time for people to respond increases the likelihood action will be taken.

Example: A prompt-pay discount gives patients a limited time to make payment and save money – encouraging them to take action sooner rather than later. This sense of urgency usually leads to the fastest path of action possible (i.e. self-service).

Status quo bias – people tend to not change an established behavior, unless there is a compelling reason. Therefore, if a behavior is positioned as the most popular option, that is normally enough to guide our decision to take that specified action.

Example: Emphasizing the popularity of your self-service options within your statement design and during your staff’s patient interactions.

It is important to note that this does not mean using deception or coercion – just simple, ethical, engagement techniques that prevent patients from procrastinating.  



Today’s patients are happy to serve themselves when they can find what they need quickly, with little effort and no frustration.

This is where factors like the usability, functionality and design of your solution come in to play.

Again, put yourself in the patient’s shoes, and go through the self-service process yourself.

  • How easy is it to navigate to your payment portal from your organizations home page?
  • Are elements of the process distracting or confusing?
  • Is the self-service environment mobile-friendly? Or does it require a lot of zooming and spanning when using a smartphone or tablet?

The end goal here is to make the targeted behavior (self-service) easier to do.

While this area of optimization may seem “simple,” like most simple concepts, it often goes overlooked.



When it comes to taking action, we humans often need a “nudge” to remind us and motivate us.

In the case of patient self-service, we refer to these nudges as triggers.

The trigger gets a patient’s attention with something external (a notification) or internal (a prompt within the solution).

  • External triggers – these are outbound communications or messages, such as email, text or IVR calls, that elicit the desired self-service action.
  • Internal triggers – these are notifications that occur during the self-service process. For example, a pop-up or prompt that occurs when a patient is using your online payment portal.

Review your current engagement strategy.

Where can you add triggers to either increase motivation (external) or aid in the user experience (internal)?

A best-in-breed solution provider should be able to accommodate these upgrades to your self-service/patient engagement strategy.


Final thoughts

As resources and budgets continue to be stretched thin, finding ways to generate more patient self-service will remain a priority for revenue cycle professionals.

When patients can pay, schedule, and manage their account(s) on their own terms, you not only meet the service expectations of today’s healthcare consumers, but you lighten the workload on your revenue cycle team.

Focusing on these three areas (motivation, ability and triggers) will provide you with a simple framework for self-service optimization.

Emerge CF

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