Without question, the level of care that a patient receives from clinicians will shape their perception of your facility. But equally important to a patient’s overall satisfaction are their pre- and post-service experiences. Ultimately, a provider’s pre- and post-service processes create the first and last experience impressions of your facility.

As healthcare professionals, we understand that providing a positive experience is the right thing to do, but there are also significant business reasons for doing so. At Froedtert Health, we have found that a positive patient financial experience can improve payment performance, reducing the overall cost to collect. In an increasingly competitive marketplace where patients determine where they will spend their healthcare dollars, creating a positive financial experience is one way to ensure patients continue to receive their care at Froedtert Health.

Not too long ago, Connance conducted an online study of more than 500 healthcare consumers from 46 states. Executed in August 2014, highlights from the Consumer Impact Study include:

  • Among respondents giving billing processes a top score:
    • 82% would recommend the hospital
    • 95% would return to the same hospital for a future elective service, and
    • 74% paid their bills in full.
  • Among respondents giving billing processes less than satisfied scores:
    • 15% would recommend the hospital,
    • 58% would return to the same hospital for a future elective service, and
    • 33% paid their bills in full.

Ensuring an excellent patient financial experience with your organization is critical to maintaining your place in an ultra-competitive environment. One of the keys to ensuring a positive patient financial experience starts with training, but how do your representatives have financial conversations with patients when such conversations do not come naturally to most people? Without question, an effective training program is an essential component to your business offices success.

As revenue cycle leaders, in addition to Training, we must also look at Information, Technology, Processes, and Feedback to ensure patient satisfaction.

Providing representatives with the appropriate pre-and post- service training will ensure the right financial conversations are occurring at the right time. Training should not only include an understanding of your data, policies, procedures, and billing process, but should also include listening and empathy training. The latter is best achieved through role playing and activities.

We, along with our business partner State Collection Service, invest a great deal of effort into the training of our representatives. We follow HFMA’s Patient Financial Communications Best Practices and augment our training program with HFMA’s Credentialed Revenue Cycle Representatives certification program. In addition, Froedtert Health and State Collection Service have adopted the Studer Group’s empowerment language into our training program.

Providing your patients with appropriate information creates the start of a positive experience. In our case, this includes an estimate of the patient’s expected out-of-pocket expense prior to services being provided. This includes both hospital and physician charges to avoid confusion. We also provide the patient with written information outlining our billing process.

In addition to this, clear and patient-friendly statements provide our patients with a clear understanding of the financial process post service. We have spent a great deal of time developing a clear and concise statement based upon HFMA’s Patient Friendly Billing Guidelines as well as patient feedback. Again, to avoid confusion, the statement includes all guarantor charges.

In addition to providing the patient with information of our billing processes and providing a plain language summary of our financial assistance policies, we ensure our financial counselors are available in person and via phone to assist staff when needed. Further, our staff is trained on the various payment options, which may be discussed in person, by phone, online, or even within MyChart.

As indicated, through the use of technology, we are able to provide the patient with a combined estimation of their hospital and physician charges. We also utilize technology to augment our financial assistance policies through presumptive eligibility scores, which minimize a patient’s need to provide supporting documentation.

Today’s patients communicate through various channels. Our patients are no different. Patients are able to view their statements while in MyChart using Apex’s Single Sign on Technology. They can also pay their bills through MyChart, which has mobile apps available for all devices.

Finally, we utilize technology in the form of State Collection Service’s PPMS (Professional Practices Management System) software to track issues, establish escalation protocols, and to determine the root cause of issues to put in place the proper corrective actions. In addition to the PPMS software, we rely heavily on State Collection Service’s use of advanced speech analytics to provide a feedback mechanism of our training and processes.

The creation of representative call scorecards coupled with our utilization of speech analytics allows us to monitor representative conversations in real time. The scorecard allows us to determine what we should measure, gives our representatives a comparison tool, and provides a feedback mechanism of any training needs. Other items we monitor through the use of speech analytics include the use of empathy and empowerment language, escalation alerts (including tone and language), and first call resolution.

By creating a closed loop feedback process, which starts with training and is augmented through technology, information, and processes, you can improve the overall patient financial experience while reducing your overall cost to collect.

About State Collection Service, Inc.

Since 1949, State Collection Service has provided quality collection service to countless healthcare organizations.

Through experience and innovation, State Collection Service has grown to become a tremendously credible and nationally-recognized collection agency offering services from pre-registration to bad debt. It is upon the basis of ethical behavior and a dedication to integrity that each State Collection Service employee works to uphold the company’s vision – Partnerships for a Lifetime.

*This article first appeared in “A State Collection Service, Inc. Newsletter Volume 22, Issue 4, Fourth Quarter 2016”