The Road to Recovery: Improving Patient Engagement Despite Financial Challenges

The healthcare industry has been hit hard by the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With widespread losses in patient revenue, many health systems experienced significant revenue gaps. While economic recovery seems to be on the horizon, the financial obstacles are sure to last for some time, continuing to make collecting a challenge. That’s why a road map is still so beneficial. Health systems need a plan for financial recovery, one that focuses on improving patient engagement.

Even amidst the rollout of vaccines, the financial predicaments facing health systems continue. Hospitals struggle to adapt to a new, digital business model that’s gained popularity during the pandemic, and many patients are still wary about returning to hospitals. As Jacqueline LaPointe at RevCycle Intelligence reports, “These challenges could continue to create financial problems for hospitals and health systems as they rethink how to deliver care in the wake of the pandemic.”

According to Kaufman Hall, the pandemic could cause U.S. hospitals to face between $53 billion and $122 billion in missed revenue in 2021. There are currently 897 hospitals at risk of closing and many are being forced to reduce staffing to account for the decline in volume. As many patients still struggle to pay bills due to loss of employment and employer-related health insurance, plus the ongoing strain around high deductible health plans, some health systems will need a solution to help them financially recover. 

These challenges are daunting, no doubt, but not insurmountable. What health systems need is a plan. 

VisitPay’s Plan for Taking on Financial Uncertainty

VisitPay developed the Five-Point Plan, a tool to help health systems thrive in a time of economic uncertainty by improving patient engagement. As financial instability continues, the plan remains just as relevant and helpful for health systems.

It’s a blueprint, aimed to outline a way forward. It addresses the evolving concerns of both patient and provider, assuring that your community gets the care they need, while the health system continues to maintain financial viability. 

The plan was created through consultation and collaboration with our clients, as well as leaning on our unique experience—especially regarding consumer financial behavior. It’s designed to help engage patients in the payment process, find efficiencies in the revenue cycle, and provide flexibility and support to patients that need it in a targeted, fair, and precise way.

Here is an overview of the Five-Point Plan:

1. Maximum Self-Service: Get as many patients as possible (as quickly as possible) to online platforms to reduce call volumes and maintain payment rates. 

2. Communicate Purposefully: Talk to patients in a way that is appropriate for their situation—using empathy across all communication.

3. Make Precise Offers: Adjust payment terms in ways that reflect individual patient needs, offering flexibility to those that will benefit from it.

4. Target Relief Appropriately: Use score-based segmentation and other targeting to provide payment relief for patients that need it.

5. Balance Patient Satisfaction and Payment Rates: Measure Net Promoter Score and other metrics to learn how patients view your billing system.

Moving Forward

At VistiPay, we’re always adapting, just like the health system clients we serve. We’ve made more than 20 updates to our platform since March 2020, and have rolled out an Economic Response Accelerator to get new clients deployed as quickly as possible. 

We’re here to help our health system partners (both existing and those yet to come) to navigate these challenging times. 

Read more on how to better engage patients in their financial journey

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