5 Reasons Marketers Care about the Patient Financial Experience

At VisitPay we develop technology that helps health systems and their patients manage healthcare bills in a better way. We all know that these expenses can be both large and unexpected. We work hand-in-hand with the revenue cycle leaders and teams at each of our clients to deploy our technology and integrate deeply into the existing EHR environment

But increasingly we work with marketing and patient experience leaders who are getting deeply involved in decisions around solutions for the consumer revenue cycle and how to deploy them. Why is this happening? I believe there are five key reasons why marketers care more about an area that has traditionally been the preserve of the finance organization. 

1. Make the complex, simple. 

Healthcare billing is notoriously complicated for consumers to understand. Using traditional paper as the medium, consumers may receive multiple billing statements for what is, for them, a single encounter. 

Often it isn’t clear what they actually owe, either because the line item details are too difficult to understand or because it isn’t clear what insurance will pay or has paid on the account. Perhaps this didn’t matter too much in the days when consumer out-of-pocket expense was limited to small amounts. But with patient liability routinely standing between 20-30% of a health system’s revenue, the bills are now large and can’t be ignored. 

Larger bills make the financial experience a cause of significant patient stress and frustration, which bubbles over on social media and in local and national press. Marketers care about the patient experience at all moments across a clinical journey and become enthusiastic advocates of making the billing experience easier for patients when they see what is possible. For example, sending one consolidated statement a month (across family members, and any number of acute and ambulatory billing systems) and clearly showing what action insurance has taken, visit by visit.

2. Create personalized experiences

Typically healthcare billing has worked on a one-size-fits-all basis: send a certain number of statements, offer a universal credit policy, and refer the patient to collections if the bill is not paid. 

Marketers instinctively realize that one-size-doesn’t-fit-all and want to know how the financial experience can be as tailored as other experiences we expect in other industries. One patient may want billing notifications by text, another by email, another on paper. One patient may need a flexible long-term financing option, while another may not. 

Being able to discern different needs and then engage consumers in ways that reflect those needs is a tenet of contemporary digital marketing in all industries. Why not healthcare? Platforms like VisitPay make it possible.

3. Make it measurable

Today it’s hard to measure patient satisfaction with the billing experience. 

Traditional technologies like EMR solutions do not give marketing teams the consistent, measurable feedback they crave when it comes to understanding what consumers think. As a result, many health systems resort to listening in on phone calls or measuring by exception. 

Marketers expect a stream of digital performance data, continually updated, that gives them reliable and actionable key performance information. At VisitPay we deploy commonly used consumer satisfaction methodologies like Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score. We capture an enormous amount of digital feedback too. All these are great fuel for the marketer to collaborate with us and design an ever better, ever more highly rated, consumer experience.

4. Make it testable

Following hard on the heels of measurability is testability. Having the ability to get data on just about any element of the consumer experience naturally leads the marketer towards ways to make improvements. But you have to know whether the improvements you’re making work. 

We’re experts at designing and running tests so we can learn, together with our clients, what aspects of an experience the consumer responds to (for example, does one group of consumers want to see all their visit level detail, and another just doesn’t care and wants to get on with paying their bill?) and what offers make most sense (for example, do discounts incent faster payment, or how about the use of interest?). And, importantly, we know how to run tests like this while keeping a steady eye on the impacts to payment rates and patient satisfaction. 

5. Build loyalty

Putting these ideas together, when you offer a patient billing experience that is easy to understand, personalized to the needs and preferences of an individual, measurable and testable…you create loyal patients. And loyal patients are what sustains a health system and cements their role in the communities they serve.

This week I’m heading to the SHSMD Conference in Nashville along with hundreds of marketers and patient experience leaders from across the US. I’m looking forward to discussing the ideas in this post and why marketers are now the revenue cycle leaders’ new best friend.

To talk more about some of the ideas in this post, let’s connect at SHSMD (find me on Twitter @VisitPayWill). In the meantime, download a copy of The VisitPay Report, where you’ll find the results of our survey of 2,000 Americans to understand their needs and preferences around the healthcare financial experience.

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