Carrots Not Sticks: How to Simultaneously Increase Patient Payments and Patient Satisfaction

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One thing we love to tout at VisitPay is that we drive an increase in patient payment yield AND patient satisfaction without making a single collections call (you can read more about those outcomes in this article). How health systems work with patients (or not) is a hot topic of conversation at the moment, as this article in Financial Times publication Health System Specialist describes. Before I explain some of the ways VisitPay increases both these metrics, let me first explain something about my past.

I previously worked at Capital One in their credit recovery services division. Unlike many of my counterparts, who worked in the better-known credit card issuance division (winning new customers and managing those customers who paid their bills on time), I worked in the division that dealt with accounts that had already gone to collections — or in industry parlance, their accounts had “charged off.” As a large national brand who put a premium on customer satisfaction, our teams worked with professionalism and respect for the consumer, and the legal and regulatory framework that guided our actions.

Very, very few people wanted to have their accounts in recoveries. We had an approach that the more we could satisfy customers, the more those people would opt in to paying their bills. We drove customer satisfaction through a strategy heavily based on our industry-leading data analytics, where we used those analytics to customize communications and innovate product offerings based on the unique attributes and situations of an individual. Even though customer satisfaction is notoriously bad in this segment, one of our products frequently achieved the highest consumer satisfaction ratings in the company.

I left Capital One in 2006, and co-founded VisitPay a few years later with the fundamental belief that such an information-based strategy could help transform the healthcare billing industry by creating “you know me experiences.” That is, tailoring experiences to what individuals actually want and need in a way that is helpful to them.

Fast forward to today. VisitPay was built to prove that a great experience drives great outcomes for healthcare providers and patients. We leverage our industry-leading foundation of data and analytics to help implement great billing experiences at scale. We truly believe that carrots win out over sticks, especially when it comes to paying healthcare expenses. In many cases healthcare expenses were unexpected. They also can be very large. And they also can be very confusing.

Rather than investing in sending more statements or collection notices, or making more calls, we invest our time in advancing the experience in ways that give consumers a great billing experience. Here are just a few ways we do it:

  • Billing history transparency: A VisitPay consumer will see every visit they’ve had with the health system in their account. And for every visit, they will see all charges, insurance payments, contractual adjustments, and payments they’ve made.
  • Issue resolution: If through that transparency the consumer thinks something is amiss, they can contact the health system and resolve the issue in real time. At the end of the day, a person is not going to pay if they think the bill is wrong. Fixing it immediately is important.
  • Single, consolidated bill per month: We guarantee the consumer will get a single bill per month, combining physician and facility charges onto one statement. We do this across multiple billing systems for a hospital — even if you have Cerner, Epic, and Meditech (and more), your consumers will still receive just one statement per month.
  • Insurance info (EOB): We display the Explanation of Benefits right alongside the hospital bill. This allows a consumer to easily compare what their insurer reported versus what the healthcare system says they owe. It gives the consumer the confidence they need to pay their bill, reduces the need for them to sift through reams of paper and if the consumer finds an issue, they can use the aforementioned online resolution tools to solve the problem.
  • Smart finance plan offers: We provide extended financing based on the healthcare system’s rule set and give patients an easy way to self-service within the health systems policies. Given the magnitude of bills today, consumers need longer to pay, and we can provide “smart” offers that are tailored to the consumer’s ability to pay.
  • Prompt pay discounts: Maybe this is the ultimate “carrot.” We can provide discounts to consumers who pay their bills in full on time. Like our finance plan offers, these discounts can be tailored to the individual in a variety of ways.

These are just a handful of features that drive patient payment yield AND consumer satisfaction. The VisitPay solution was purpose-built to create this “AND” proposition and we’d love to talk to share even more about how we do it.

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