The Source

It’s 2019. Yet, from how they schedule an appointment to how they pay their bills, patients are  feeling more frustrated with their healthcare experience than ever. According to a recent Deloitte survey, consumers ranked their recent healthcare experience as the most dissatisfying, even compared to other painstaking activities like visiting the bank or purchasing a car. The problem? What healthcare currently offers is still far from the consumer-focused experience that patients want – and, those that they have grown to expect given their interactions across almost all other aspects of their lives. If the transportation industry had held on to traditional methodologies in the same way, we’d all still be riding in horse-drawn carriages.  

What do patients want? (Think Amazon)

Imagine a world where you can pay your medical bill with the same ease as buying your morning coffee or shopping on Amazon, all guided by your personal preferences. Unfortunately, the antiquated billing systems used by most hospitals render this same type of customized, convenient experience extremely challenging when it comes to our health.

Currently, hospitals are taking a consumer-like, personalized approach in the operating room to care for a patient’s physical wellbeing, leveraging a variety of high-tech tools to achieve the best possible outcomes. Beyond the operating room, the industry is also leveraging consumer-friendly technology like patient portals or text appointment reminders ‒ but it’s not enough. This technology must extend to the billing process.

How can we better meet patient needs?

We need to leverage better technology, not more. As the industry continues to focus on consumer experience and value-based care, there is a critical need for technology to support and empower patients through their whole healthcare journey, billing included.

The reason Amazon is able to offer such a customized engagement experience is because they have access to critical data that allows them to personalize each consumer’s journey. This must be replicated for patient billing. We need to use advanced technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as innovative applications of data to truly personalize the patient experience, and reach out to patients when and how they want to be targeted ‒ whether that be via text, email or even snail mail.

We need to give patients the option to pay their bills online, with their preferred payment method (i.e., check, credit card or Apple Pay), and then save their payment information for next time. And why not provide easy access to support like online chat so that patients can get their questions answered whether they are at home, at work or anywhere in between? When patients are engaged in the way they want to be engaged, they are more likely to pay their bills. This means increased collections for the healthcare organization and better overall patient satisfaction.

Prioritizing patient experience beyond the operating room

As patients shoulder more of the costs of their medical care, the financial fate of healthcare organizations largely depends on their ability to deliver high-quality clinical care and a positive financial experience. If a patient can’t understand their bill or easily identify where to send their payment, how are they expected to actually pay their bill?

As we embark on 2019, consumer expectations will only continue to grow as new technologies and platforms are introduced to make everything from ordering take-out to streaming content on Netflix simplified and personalized. By taking action now to customize patient billing and provide patients with a variety of ways to engage, providers can leave outdated billing processes behind to make way for increased patient satisfaction and a bigger bottom line.

Now, if only we had flying cars.

Want to learn more about creating a consumer-focused billing experience? Download the whitepaper.