How to Measure Your Health System’s Patient Financial Experience

In a study conducted by Deloitte, hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores showed higher profitability. Many health systems acknowledge the importance of a great financial experience but are left wondering how to measure it. Brenden Warwick, Program Manager of Patient Financial Experience at St. Luke’s Health System, one of the 15 Top Health Systems in America, shared the three steps his system took to start tracking their patients’ financial experience.

Look at the entire patient financial journey

The first step in tracking experience is understanding the patient financial journey from end-to-end. By doing this, a system will be able to identify the key stakeholders to involve in the financial experience conversation.

St. Luke’s breaks up the patient financial experience into three categories: before service, time of service, and after service. Team members from scheduling and registration, hospital and clinic staff, and patient financial services are invited to participate in a patient financial experience committee where strategies to improve patient experience are discussed.

As these strategies are implemented, committee members share the observed effects to gain a complete view of the patient financial journey.

Pick a comprehensive metric to report

St. Luke’s tracks their system-wide performance on a scorecard. One element the patient experience committee includes is a score of patients’ “overall experience with St. Luke’s registration, billing, and billing follow up.” Selecting a single financial experience metric to report allows St. Luke’s to get executive buy-in and track trends over time.

  • Tip: Warwick suggests having a resource dedicated to patient financial experience who is accountable for improving the score.

Use a variety of methods to collect feedback

Warwick recommends capturing the patients’ voice through several means to fully represent all dimensions of the patient financial experience. Their patient financial experience committee does this through surveying, focus groups, and interviews.  

Surveys: Patients are randomly surveyed 90-days after their discharge date. As a part of the survey, St. Luke’s asks specific questions about the patient’s experience before service, at time of service, and after service to identify key areas that could be improved.

  • Tip: St. Luke’s decided on 90 days as it gave the patient enough time to go through the complete financial journey. Warwick also recommends exploring different survey methods based on each patient’s insurance situation. St. Luke’s finds it more difficult to get feedback from self-pay patients than from commercially insured and government insured patients.   

Focus groups: St. Luke’s prioritizes initiatives by inviting patients to share their feedback through focus groups. Last year, St. Luke’s went through a full statement redesign as statement confusion was a key patient pain point shared in these focus groups.

Interviews: St. Luke’s partners with VisitPay to hold user-experience and feedback sessions for patients using their digital bill pay platform. The VisitPay and St. Luke’s teams leverage these insights to improve patient digital engagement.    

  • Tip: Starting in 2019, St. Luke’s non-clinical team members will be encouraged to spend time with patients as they receive services from the system. While Warwick says rounding will not contribute directly to any measured metrics, it will provide valuable context for team members as they seek to improve the patient financial experience.

Getting started with tracking and measuring the financial experience for your patients can lead to important insights that will improve the overall financial health of your system. Knowing the patient experience end-to-end helps prioritize where the most significant improvements can be made for the good of both patients and health systems alike.

If you’d like to know more about the patient financial experience, download our ebook “Improving the Patient Experience.”

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