Focus on what you can control, including costs.
One of the greater challenges of this pandemic is the lack of control – over health, the economy, our financial well-being – even where we can exist. The same is true for healthcare providers, faced with declining revenues, patients in financial hardship, and uncertain financial health. As you consider strategies for revenue cycle recovery, it helps to focus on the things you CAN control, including cost.
The economic impact of COVID-19 makes it important for providers to control costs – and a digital first financial engagement strategy makes more sense than ever. Research consistently shows that patients prefer to engage digitally, and they pay faster when that’s an option. In one survey of patients across the US, 62 percent prefer digital statements alone, or some combination of print and digital communications. Beyond the obvious benefits of speed and flexibility, digital payment options save providers time and money.
So if the solution is that simple, why haven’t providers widely adopted digital engagement before now?
Many healthcare providers have been slow to adopt digital because patient information is trapped in silos throughout their organizations. In a recent poll of revenue cycle leaders, 59 percent of respondents said they capture digital information about patients – but don’t use digital communications for billing.
Some providers may collect patient information at point of service but don’t employ it in their financial communications because it’s trapped in a different database. We recommend aggregating patient information and using it across the enterprise. Doing so means better meeting patient expectations for digital delivery, while reducing print and postage cost.
The effectiveness of digital engagement is compelling. Data shows that one large health system experienced almost a 1,000 percent increase in payments made within three days of sending out a digital bill. In fact, patient payments are being made even before a statement could arrive in their postal mailbox. Other benefits we’re seeing of this Digital First approach include:
- Patients receiving a digital communication are paying an average of seven days faster
- 40 percent of payments from a text are made within the first 24 hours of receiving a bill and 24 percent are paying within the first hour
- Patients are 21 percent more likely to pay when they receive a text, as compared to only receiving printed statements
How can healthcare organizations dissolve their patient information silos? Typically, the process of opting in for an email or text has been relegated to the individual products within the ecosystem. Yet there’s valuable digital information stored in appointment reminders, portals, EMR systems, and other database(s) in use by the customer service organization.
We recommend sharing all of this information across the enterprise. Doing so makes it possible to engage patients with the same preferred channels regardless of where they are on their patient journey. The resulting insight can be accessible to all interaction points that patients have with their providers, such as appointment reminders, payment portals or the call center.
This approach greatly accelerates the number of communications providers can send digitally and dramatically reduces costs. With digital adoption rocketing from less than 5% to 60% or more, the savings opportunity for healthcare providers can be significant. What’s more, multiple digital communications can be sent at a fraction of the cost of print for the same, or better, result.
In closing, it’s important to emphasize that digital first doesn’t mean digital only. A meaningful percentage of patients still prefer, and act on, printed communications. So, it’s important to use precisely the right channel that drives the right result for each patient.
This blog is a preview excerpt from our white paper, Innovation in a Time of Crisis – Now and In the Future. Here, you can find other innovations and strategies learned from healthcare clients responding to the challenges of COVID-19. Find it coming soon in the Resources section of our website.