Creating Positive Patient Experiences by Leveraging Human-Centered Design

Simplifying processes for providers and patients—and creating positive user experiences for both—is central to VisitPay. By embracing human-centered design, VisitPay creates patient loyalty and engagement. Kristin Burns, Director of Product Management, knows a thing or two about the benefits of putting patients first. She spent 15 years working for a large software company in a consumer loyalty space until bringing her experience to VisitPay three years ago.

“It seemed like a bit of an odd transition to move from that space into health care,” Kristin says. But she notes that customer loyalty and product management share a common goal. “What I found when I was moving over to VisitPay is that my background is in building user-centered products that make people happy and want to engage.”

Kristin says her job is central to creating positive experiences for every patient using VisitPay. “The Product Management team spends our time figuring out how to make VisitPay drive outcomes for our clients by satisfying their patients,” she says. “My role is to make VisitPay as seamless and as comfortable as possible so that we don’t have any barriers to use or loyalty.”

We sat down with Kristin to learn more about how VisitPay uses a human-centered approach to simplify the patient financial experience, creating accessible and seamless engagement.

Q: How does human-centered design improve the patient financial experience?

Kristin: We start by putting ourselves in the patient’s shoes. How would they feel, and how can we ease some of that frustration they might feel at that point? Let’s say the patient had a great experience with their provider, or they’ve healed and it’s all gone well. What usually happens is some weeks—if not months—go by and they start getting bills. That can be the last touchpoint that a health system has with a patient. 

So the patient starts feeling better and getting healthy. And now, all of a sudden, they start getting a stack of paper bills flowing in. They don’t know what they are. They can’t tell if insurance was billed or where each charge or bill is coming from—what a disappointing way to end an otherwise positive clinical experience. 

This is where VisitPay comes in. We make the financial experience less of a surprise and reassure patients right away when information comes in that there are options for them. When they see their bills, they’re seeing them alongside the options to pay, not just a piece of paper with a balance on it. They can see their bill, and they can also see their explanation of benefits and can break it down and look at each transaction. 

Q: How do you measure and learn from the patient experience?

Kristin: The first thing we do is ask the patients who use our tools for feedback. We ask targeted questions: How easy was this for you? How much longer did this take than you thought it would? Then we share those scores with our clients and use them to guide decisions we make about our products. 

For example, we had a survey and noticed a lot of comments about how the statements patients receive don’t say what’s needed for HSA or FSA reimbursement submission. We realized we didn’t have a version of an itemized statement, which would give a patient every transaction down to each Tylenol they received.

We had all the information—there was no reason not to have that itemized statement in there. And so we built it. And now in VisitPay, if you want an itemized statement, you can print it right from the application. 

As we measured how satisfied people were with their statement experience, we saw the scores improve. That told us that the itemized statement was driving satisfaction and leaving patients with positive outcomes.

Q: What advice would you give health finance leaders on how to best support their patients’ financial journey?

Kristin: One of the great trends in healthcare right now is engaging people prior to their appointments: talking to them about scheduling or an estimate and providing that transparency right away. I really would push and encourage health systems to migrate patients to digital right up front—it doesn’t need to be a surprise. It’s a great opportunity to really lean in and talk to the patients about what’s available to manage their financial experience through a website or mobile device.

After all, we know if we make positive experiences for the patient, that will create an excellent health system, as well. 

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