Improve Patient Satisfaction & Collections with Efficient Payment Processes

Improve Patient Satisfaction & Collections with Efficient Payment Processes
It’s no secret that healthcare is shifting to a more consumer-centric model.
At the same time, prices continue to increase just as more of the financial responsibility is being laid on the patient. Due to increasing patient-owed amounts, it is imperative that providers take steps to improve communication to patients. But improving communication to patients isn’t only about providing clear, concise financial statements. It’s also about facilitating easy payment options, reducing the need for phone calls, and providing a simplified, efficient experience.

It’s Not Just About the Patient Statement
Physicians, as well as your business office staff, need to work together to create an environment conducive to positive customer service. Good customer service in a patient-friendly atmosphere will lead to satisfied patients, repeat customers, and improved patient payments.

When establishing processes for improving patient financial interaction, all too often healthcare providers focus their efforts entirely on statements and invoices. There is more to building effective financial communication with patients than simple improvements or minor modifications to statements or bills. Some processes for improving patient financial interaction include:

• Establishing goals and objectives to reduce incoming patient calls
• Setting targets for increasing payments and collections
• Measuring staff against set goals and targets for both call reduction and improved self-pay collections
• Educating staff on ways to effectively communicate financial obligations to patients
• Encourage or require staff to ask for payment upfront based on financial responsibility quoted

Immediately Involve the Patient in the Billing Process
At the beginning of the patient interaction, financial obligations should be reviewed in as much detail as possible and agreed upon payment terms should be established. Effectively communicating patient financial responsibility prior to services being rendered helps to ensure that patients understand the amount they are responsible for paying before the invoice arrives. Reviewing financial responsibility with patients up front also helps to reduce incoming calls regarding their statements.

With the rise of consumerism and related high-deductible health plans, patients are exercising more choice in their healthcare decisions and are beginning to adopt a “retail” way of thinking. Post-encounter letters, including a detailed description of services, pending payer payments/adjustment, and a message thanking the patient for their business should be sent to all patients that have a remaining financial obligation to the provider.

By involving patients in the billing process prior to services being rendered and then approaching them again immediately after the encounter, patients will have a clearer understanding of their responsibilities, which has a positive impact on patient satisfaction. This improves the chance for repeat business from patients helping to ensure your business continues to grow.

Proven Technologies Help Improve Awareness
As society continues to embrace e-commerce, online billing and payment has become the “new normal” and preferred method for paying bills. According to a 2007 Pew Foundation report, 79 percent of adult Americans have searched online for health information (Fox, S. and Madden, M., Participatory Medicine: How User-Generated Media Are Changing Americans’ Attitudes and Actions, Both Online and Offline, Pew Internet & American Life Project).

Another Pew Internet Study found that, in February 2005, 27 percent of Americans used some form of online banking. By the beginning of 2008, that number had risen to 39 percent. In just three short years, the number of people who turn to the Internet for one of their most sensitive transactions—banking—has risen substantially and is poised to continue to rise. In another sign of the public’s growing comfort and preference for online banking and purchasing, the same Pew study found that e-commerce revenue has increased by $27.1 billion since 2000 (Horrigan, J.B., Online Shopping, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Feb. 2008).

Providing patients with web access to your existing facility website helps improve the management and collection of patient-owed fees. Increased patient satisfaction and improved staff efficiencies can be realized almost immediately after implementing an online billing and payment tool. An effective online billing and payment tool will offer two distinct components through which a hospital can collect patient-owed fees.
An online billing and payment patient-facing component. A patient-facing, web-based tool enables patients to manage their open accounts, pay outstanding balances, securely communicate with the business office 24/7, update address or insurance changes, preregister for services or appointments, etc.

Online billing and payment hospital-facing component. A hospital-facing tool provides customer service capabilities, enabling staff to accept payments in person or over the phone. It also allows staff to view exact replicas of patient statements to help improve communications and efficiencies for payment collection within the healthcare enterprise.

Online billing and payment continues to grow in popularity, and the ability to integrate one of these systems within your billing cycle is critical. To that end, an integrated patient billing and payment solution offers a comprehensive approach--from the initial patient encounter through final payment. The financial statement works together with this solution to help improve collection performance, reduce costs associated with patient collections, and increase operational efficiency. Providers can capitalize on the growth of online banking and bill pay in conjunction with clear, concise financial statements through an integrated patient billing and payment solution, helping to simplify the revenue cycle and net more self-pay collections. The result: improved financial health for the business.

Evaluate Your Current Process and Make Adjustments
Consumers in every industry have become increasingly savvy, and healthcare is no different. If your organization is not evaluating and adapting to the shift in your patient population, you will be left behind. So how do you get started? Evaluate current processes throughout your organization from patient access to exceptions:

• Assess your current billing statement effectiveness.
• Define areas for improvement within the entire patient encounter.
• Deploy a multi-level approach for financial communications, improving printed statements and offering convenient billing and payment methods.
• Employ metrics to measure your success.

A patient-friendly experience begins the moment the patient walks into your healthcare facility. Do not miss the opportunity to create a favorable, patient-centered experience. By making adjustments to the manner in which your organization interacts with patients, your facility can build a more positive patient experience, ultimately establishing a more cost-effective workflow within the business office.

Clark Conley is the regional vice president for Emdeon’s Patient Billing & Payment Solutions division. He has over 10 years of experience in the print and mail industry with emphasis on patient statements. Clark has worked with providers across the country to provide information and best practices in statement design and online billing and payment methods.

To learn more about how Emdeon can help your healthcare business, contact us today at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) or visit us online.


Emdeon Asks the $30 Billion Question

The $30Billion Question
Introducing the U.S. Healthcare Efficiency Index
“What would you do with $30 billion?” This question sparked a groundswell of intrigue at the recent Healthcare 2.0 conference in San Diego. Purveyed on buttons and business cards at the event, this hypothetical inquiry alludes to the dollar value assigned to the cost of the healthcare industry’s voluminous inefficiencies as it lumbers toward becoming electronically-based. A guerrilla website——supplemented the messaging, concurrently touting the $30 billion question to curious participants and putting a spotlight on a must-address issue for the industry.

For those of us who’ve worked in healthcare any length of time, it may be hard to fathom there’s $30 billion (with a “b”!) of business inefficiencies in our industry. Of course, we know the transition is far from complete, and there’s always room for improvement...but $30 billion worth? Aren’t we ceaselessly implementing technology or upgrading systems to accommodate a new mandate, fulfill a market demand or streamline revenue cycles?

And if there’s still a $30 billion chasm—even after all the electronic evolutions, solutions and changes, how can we ever be sure we’re making real progress?

Enter the U.S. Healthcare Efficiency Index™.

The U.S. Healthcare Efficiency Index is “an industry forum for monitoring the business efficiency in healthcare.” The Index, already online at, is poised to be the singular source for tracking the transition of our system from paper to electronic transactions.

This innovative forum—and the intriguing $30 billion question that was its precursor—are the brainchildren of Emdeon’s leadership team. Though the Index was born of Emdeon’s unwavering commitment to electronic efficiency, it is established, guided and advised by some of the nation’s most respected, authoritative experts from the healthcare industry and beyond. The charter advisory council includes the likes of Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation. Renowned statisticians Dr. Fritz Scheuren and Dr. Patrick Baier are creating processes for data gathering, analysis and reporting for the Index.

Emdeon’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy Miriam Paramore serves on the Index’s advisory council and is a passionate advocate of the need for awareness and action.

“So many business leaders and policy makers assume that billing and payment related transactions have been ‘fixed’ and are fully automated, but that’s not so.” Paramore explains. “For example, when we tell people that medical payment transactions alone could create $11 billion in annual savings through direct deposit, they’re blown away. They had no idea there was such need for improvement.”

The Index is launching in phases to accommodate increased specificity over time. Phase 1 is focused on the potential savings for medical claims-related transactions. Future phases will address pharmacy, dental, vision and Worker’s Compensation. In addition to the tracking of financial data, the Index also follows environmental impact as the industry moves away from paper usage to electronic transactions. Information will be updated quarterly.

Log on and sign up. Visit the "Get Involved" page of the website to sign up for regular updates and opportunities to participate.

Advisory Council Roster (to date)
Fritz Scheuren, Ph.D.

Patrick Baier, D.Phil.
Milliman, Inc.

John L. Phelan, Ph.D.
Milliman, Inc.

Andrew Naugle, MBA
Milliman, Inc.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA
Health Economist and Author

Newt Gingrich
Center for Health Transformation

Miriam Paramore


Stop the Money Drain

Increase your revenue
How to increase your revenue and reimbursement rates
Today, the demands of financial responsibility placed on patients for the care you deliver has never been greater. New high deductible and consumer-directed health plans have shifted the payment burden to patients who often only know that they are sick, not how much their treatment will cost. This new dynamic threatens to spark an explosion in self-pay and bad-debt classes that many providers are currently not equipped to face or prevent. The resulting financial troubles could then threaten to impact the delivery of care for everyone.

This scenario is not unstoppable, however, there are important steps providers can take to maximize reimbursements and minimize bad-debt losses. With the right processes in place, providers can proactively work with patients to agree upon payment structure that works for all sides and prevents the negative impact lost revenue has on daily operations.

Here are a few tips that may help your healthcare business:

• Make your patient registration as accurate as possible because it's your best chance to maintain contact with the patient throughout the process. Many write-offs occur because of inaccurate information during this stage which can make it difficult or impossible to contact a patient after the delivery of care.

• Utilize electronic eligibility and benefits verification to create an accurate accounting of what the patient will be responsible for after third party or payer contributions. Many payers and vendors offer this service and the savings can vastly outweigh the costs.

• Be timely and accurate with your billing and make sure your patient statements are as clear as possible to the patient. A patient being consistently confused about what they are actually paying for can create mistrust. Make sure your billing documents are detailed, but still as readable as possible to people with no medical training.

• Have a clear, consistent payment policy that you give to the patient before the delivery of care. This payment policy should define the terms and payment schedule to expect from the patient. Defining this for patients prior to providing service helps reduce confusion for any financial responsibility they may carry after any procedure.

• Reduce staff turnover so that you are not constantly training new registration personnel. Mistakes made in the initial registration process are a primary cause for future billing and payment problems.

Get the right automated solutions for your situation. Automated solutions can help identify hard-to-find payment opportunities that manual processes miss often even correcting mistakes in patient information. These solutions can offer tremendous return-on-investment because of the revenue they capture which may have otherwise been lost forever.

These tips are just the beginning of what you can do to prevent painful lost revenue and make sure you get paid the largest portion of the total amount possible. Plain and direct communication with your patients can be the key to keeping your healthcare business secure and profitable no matter how the healthcare industry changes in the coming years and decades.

The Emdeon Reimbursement & Revenue Analytics suite of solutions captures payment information and automatically scans to find even the most remote payment opportunities. To learn more about how we can help you capture more revenue and prevent write-offs call us today at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) or visit us online.


Stay Connected with Patients through Informative Statement Inserts

Networking with Customers
Take full advantage of your patient communications
Looking for an economical and easy way to improve the connection with your patients? Our patient statement inserts are a personal, effective and economical method to keep in touch. In most cases, no additional postage is required because the inserts are included with documents that are already going to the patients. Simply contact Emdeon with the details you want to communicate, and we can create a custom insert just for you. Or, you may choose from any of our existing stock inserts, and we’ll customize it with your logo.

What are some of the ways inserts can help you connect?
• Announcement of New Physician
• Announcement of New Office or Location
• Change of Address Notice
• Changes in the Billing Cycle
• Promotion of Online Patient Billing and Payment Feature
• Promotion of a New Product or Service
• Instructions on Reading a Redesigned Patient Statement
• Promotion of National Health Awareness Observances
• Education on Important Health Topics

Any message you need to communicate to your patients can be executed effectively and economically with a timely statement insert. To learn more about Emdeon Patient Communications or to add an insert to your next round of statements, call 800.537.7563 ext. 73151 or visit us online.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I have a different idea for an insert. Can Emdeon help me design an insert to my specification?
A: Yes, we can. We will work with you to customize an insert to meet your needs.

Q: I need an insert designed and sent in a short timeframe. How much time do you normally require for the completion of the insert process?
A: We usually require 5 to 7 business days for a standard insert to be designed, approved and printed.

Q: Can we add our company logo to the insert?
A: Absolutely. Inserts can be customized to meet your needs.

Q: How are inserts priced?
A: Pricing for inserts is based on volume and customization.


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