A visit to your practice isn't just a healthcare experience; it's also a patient financial experience. Navigating copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses can often be confusing and overly complex. Patients may be happy with their care yet struggle with unexpected bills or complicated payment mechanisms. For more satisfied and engaged patients, your practice can consider options to improve their financial experience.
What is the Patient Financial Experience?
The patient financial experience is the series of interactions your practice has with patients regarding payment. It starts when a patient makes an appointment and continues until all claims, including bills due, have been paid. For most patients, the financial experience depends in part on their insurance benefits.
The patient financial experience has become increasingly important as deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements have increased. Out-of-pocket spending by patients represented 9 percent of all healthcare spending in the U.S. in 2020, or $388.6 billion. Collecting these patient payments upfront is critical for keeping your practice financially healthy.
Why is the Patient Financial Experience Important?
The patient financial experience significantly affects overall satisfaction with your practice. A difficult-to-navigate billing and payment system can lead patients to seek other providers, costing you revenue. The patient financial experience also directly affects your ability to collect cost-sharing. Unpaid cost-sharing can be a major source of bad debt for your practice.
Many practices spend significant time and effort designing the office visit experience to make patients feel comfortable and welcome. But few give nearly as much attention to the patient financial experience. Difficult-to-read bills, unexpected cost-sharing, and opaque payment systems can confuse and frustrate your patients. By designing clear, easy-to-navigate billing and payment systems, your practice can reduce bad debt while improving patient satisfaction.
5 Tips for Improving the Patient Financial Experience
If your practice struggles to collect patient payments, your patient financial experience may be at least partly to blame. Here are five easy ways to improve your financial processes to help patients make payments more easily.
1. Make Sure Insurance Information Is Accurate
Even minor typos in insurance information can lead to verification and authorization issues and even denied claims. When patients learn that their insurance company has refused to pay a claim, it can harm their relationship with your practice. You can reduce the hassle of denied claims by asking patients to verify their insurance information before every visit. Once the patient has accurate insurance, you should use tools to verify insurance and check for authoization needs. The NextGen Patient Portal lets patients view their insurance coverage when they book an appointment or via kiosks in your office. Asking patients to participate in the management of their information reduces data entry errors and helps ensure patients are not billed for services their insurance covers.
2. Help Patients Estimate their Costs
The patient financial experience depends on transparency, but many patients don't know how much an office visit will cost. Practice Management tools can help. The latest NextGen Patient Portal offers a cost estimator tool to help patients determine their expected out-of-pocket cost for a visit. Your practice can add this tool to your Portal to help patients plan for copays or deductibles before arriving in your office. It also helps you remain compliant with the No Surpises Act.
3. Collect Cost-Sharing Up Front
Medical bills mailed after office visits can be lost or forgotten. The best way to collect copays and coinsurance is during check-in. Third-party consultants like TempDev can customize your practice management software and workflows to add cost-sharing payments to your check-in processes.
4. Make it Easy to Pay
Most patients want to pay their medical bills. Offering multiple convenient ways to pay can make it easier to collect what patients owe. Online payment, in particular, is fast and easy for many patients. Your practice can collect online payments via the NextGen Patient Portal. The Portal can also send reminders to patients with past-due bills. Offering both online and mail-in payments lets patients choose the best approach for their schedule and lifestyle.
5. Consider Payment Plans for Struggling Patients
Bad debt harms your practice and your patients. Payment plans allow patients to pay their bills over time, either with or without interest. While charging off bad debt nets your practice pennies on the dollar, payment plans can improve your relationship with patients while increasing revenue.
How TempDev Can Help with the Patient Financial Experience
Your NextGen EHR and EPM is a powerful tool to improve the patient financial experience. TempDev's developers and consultants can customize your NextGen Patient Portal to meet your practice's needs. We also have pre-designed tools like the Front Desk Audit NextGen EPM Report and the Revenue Cycle Dashboard NextGen EPM Report to help you track patient payments and bad debt over time. And TempDev's consultants and trainers can redesign your patient financial workflows to reduce bad debt and increase patient satisfaction.
Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV or contact us for help improving your patient financial experience.
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