Transforming the patient experience shouldn’t be restricted to the waiting room or the patient-physician interaction.
Patient engagement begins when the patient researches providers and extends through the revenue cycle process. Traditionally, healthcare organizations have relied on paper-based intake processes and limited communication channels, leading to frustrated and disengaged patients. Implementing new health payment systems in healthcare organizations may be the answer to several issues industry leaders wish to address. Critical factors for success include positive provider performance and feedback, as well as improved patient financial experience and engagement.
Healthcare leaders who lean into digital-first strategies by choosing efficient health payment systems and an interoperable electronic health record system will see increased patient engagement and a better bottom line. So, what does it mean to be a “digital-first” healthcare organization?
A digital-first business model means striving toward full adoption of the new digital environment. Implementing digital-first strategies can transform healthcare organizations and drive them forward into the emerging all-digital future. Most sectors have already embraced digital marketing methods, such as websites, apps, and social media. A key factor in digital-first planning is understanding that the modern consumer will often connect with a business via a digital channel first. In other words, digital business methods are no longer a secondary strategy. Digital-first interactions are the new priority among businesses in all sectors, and patients are forming new expectations for healthcare providers.
Meeting patients where they are—by fostering effective communication and engagement through flexible digital methods—is key. There are several digital-first strategies healthcare organizations can utilize to achieve digital-first goals. Implementing efficient health payment systems coupled with an interoperable electronic health record system is a great first step. Offering text-to-collect, modern patient payment portals, and automated phone support are also effective strategies. Implementing digital-first strategies can cut out human error and empower healthcare employees to focus on tasks that matter. Curating a patient-friendly, digital-first patient financial experience can lead to increased patient financial engagement and optimized revenue cycle management.
Patient Engagement and Technology
Many digital-first strategies, such as secure text-to-collect, patient portal adoption, and phone support, are not difficult to implement and simply require employing innovative technology. By implementing easy-to-use digital systems, you can drive financial engagement as well as increase your patients’ engagement. Patient financial engagement is a crucial part of the overall patient experience, and offering engaging technology is key to secure payment.
There is a misconception that patients prefer the traditional, paper-heavy payment process. Specifically, patients of the older generations are thought to be unable to utilize technology. However, the recent pandemic caused most people to acquire technological literacy in some form. As we emerge from the pandemic, research shows that four themes illustrate key aspects of a positive healthcare experience: technology, experience, access, and trust. The 2021 Accenture Health and Life Sciences Experience Survey—consisting of nearly 1,800 people in the United States—found that 26 percent of those surveyed said their access to healthcare improved since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That same study found that growth in digital strategy implementation in healthcare was stalling before COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic also changed the way people prefer to make payments. According to the State of Online Payments Report in 2021, 50 percent of respondents cited they are more likely to make digital payments now than before the pandemic, 46 percent of the remaining respondents make digital payments just as often as they did prior to the pandemic, and only 4 percent of respondents were less likely to make digital payments than pre-pandemic.
The reality is that patients are expecting coordination, flexibility, and a better quality of care from their healthcare providers. Healthcare leaders should identify where technology can be implemented to improve their organization. The goal is to target areas where technology and automation can reduce labor costs and increase productivity through error reduction—leading to improved quality of care and efficiency.
A vital element of the patient experience is engagement and independence. According to a study published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, “The independent patient is capable of managing his/her life and medication. The freedom to care for him/herself and be independent of other people makes the patient’s life easier.” Patients need to feel that they have control over their health, physically and financially. Modern health payment systems, interoperable electronic health record systems, and digital-first communication and payment methods can empower patients to take control of their care. Options for patient self-service can include enrolling in payment plans, applying for financing or financial assistance, and controlling their communication preferences. If patients feel well-equipped to problem-solve, communicate, and make payments on their own, they are less likely to rely on providers for resources. This leads to increased efficiency for healthcare organizations of all sizes.
Digital-First Strategies and the Bottom Line
Collecting medical bill payments is a well-known problem that healthcare organizations face.
Despite Covid-19 being a catalyst for technology-forward strategies in most sectors, healthcare organizations have faced logistical and financial issues related to the pandemic. According to the American Hospital Association, “Most healthcare organizations are just now seeing patients resuming non-critical procedures. This delay in services has severely strained healthcare staff, resources, and finances.” Healthcare organizations are not alone in their need for automated, digital-first payment strategies for their bottom lines—studies show that 86 percent of consumers want to make all of their healthcare payments in one place.
Patients who are more involved in their healthcare journey are more likely to be connected with the financial aspect of their care, and patients are more likely to give better patient satisfaction scores when they experience a seamless payment process and can understand their medical bills. An easy-to-understand, patient-focused financial experience allows patients to avoid the headache of receiving traditional bills by mail—sometimes weeks after their treatment. Patients aware of their financial obligations before treatment are typically more comfortable with meeting those obligations, leading to more timely payments and a better revenue cycle.
HealthPay24: Your Digital-First Partner
The most important part of successfully implementing a digital-first strategy is ensuring flexible and secure patient payments. The payment process is a part of the patient experience and successfully collecting payments while maintaining patient happiness is imperative to organizational success.
Catering to patient needs and utilizing automation improves the healthcare experience, leading to patients who are engaged in their medical journeys. “Increased ownership and involvement in how patients pay their bills are essential to engagement. The benefits of this engagement are myriad and symbiotic.”
A great first step to making your organization a digital-first healthcare provider is implementing quality health payment systems and an efficient electronic health record system. HealthPay24’s patient payment solution offers a comprehensive system that automates workflows and simplifies medical bills into one flexible workflow. This makes payments more convenient for the patient and provider. By logging into the payment portal, patients can:
- Make quick online payments on new and prior balances.
- Establish payment plans.
- Enroll in electronic notifications.
- Take advantage of discounts offered by your healthcare organization.
HealthPay24 supports convenient and easy to use contactless payment methods that are increasingly in high demand by patients. These methods include:
- Text to pay
- Text to collect
- Card on file
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
- Digital wall
HealthPay24, an EngageSmart Solution, was named in Black Book’s Top 10 Patient Payment Technology & Software List for 2021. Black Book bases its rankings on various performance indicators, such as client experience scores, opinions of healthcare professionals, and clinicians from various types of healthcare organizations. HealthPay24 is also KLAS Rated and Reviewed.
A Digital-First Solution for Your Organization
HealthPay24 has been a leader in the healthcare sector for over twenty years. Our business is built on trust, dedication, and some good old-fashioned teamwork. Optimize your organization’s patient financial experience by implementing HealthPay24’s innovative, comprehensive, digital-first payment solutions. Visit https://www.healthpay24.com to learn more, or request a demo to join the growing number of providers using the HealthPay24 patient engagement solution.