November 10, 2020

Keep it simple or kiss patient loyalty goodbye

“KISS” is a time-honored usability principle in keeping product designs simple. First coined by a Lockheed Skunk Works engineer in the 1960s, the concept kept engineers focused on the fact that planes used in war had to be simple and easy to repair by men with few tools and limited training. Otherwise, Lockheed products would become obsolete in combat conditions. KISS also offers an important lesson for healthcare revenue cycle managers.

Patients want simple statements.

That might seem impossible given the complications of most healthcare systems, including multiple service areas charging separately. Yet consider it from the patient’s point of view. They experience one healthcare encounter—even though it may involve multiple services from many providers within the same health system—and expect one statement to reflect that medical encounter.

Instead they receive many statements, sometimes over a period of months. The statements often are confusing and may lead patients to worry they are being billed multiple times for the same services. Many times, their attempts to get clarity results in long frustrating waits on the phone while customer service tries to find the answer or free up the right person to answer the patient’s questions.

Often patients decide to stop all payments until they figure out what’s going on, which can hurt your short-term revenue cycle goals—and greatly reduce the likelihood that the patient is going to return for future care!

What can health system revenue managers do?

Keeping it simple means consolidating statements into one comprehensive, yet easy-to-read bill that covers all services and procedures connected to the same care encounter. Consolidated statements that patients can easily understand also help healthcare providers to:

  • Reduce print and postage costs up to 30%
  • Combine not only physician and hospital charges, but also bills from different family members within the billing cycle
  • Combine multiple charges initiated from multiple EMRs into one statement so complex systems that have separate locations and service brands are consolidated
  • Have the online payment portal display the exact same items found in the consolidated paper statements with itemized changes for each individual service to help alleviate questions and promote easy self-serve payments
  • Allocate each applicable service with funds routed to the applicable individual merchant accounts and posted into the applicable EMR system

Don’t “kiss away” repeat business with complicated billing that drives patients to competing providers. Instead, keep it simple for patients—and your revenue cycle staff—with consolidated statements that make paying, and accepting payments, fast, easy and—you guessed it—simple!