As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, patient loyalty becomes increasingly important. Building patient loyalty comes down to designing a quality journey from the first visit to the final bill. All too often, the financial side of that journey doesn’t live up to the clinical one. A poor financial experience can be frustrating at best. It can negatively impact how patients view their entire health system encounter, regardless of the quality of clinical care they received. If a patient has a poor experience, he or she may not return—and might even urge friends and family to consider other treatment options as well. If enough patients feel the same way, the reputation of the health system can be in jeopardy. On the other hand, a positive financial experience can ensure the vitality of patients and health systems alike.
Patients want the same experience in healthcare that they have in other areas of their lives: simple, convenient, and designed with them in mind. As Mac Boyter, Research Director at KLAS, explained, “The feedback we’ve received from providers has categorically been the essential need to reduce friction points, the pain points, and make [the patient experience] as seamless as possible.”
So, how can health systems keep tabs on whether or not patients are happy with their financial experience? In the words of Will Reilly, CMO at VisitPay, “It’s simple: ask them.” And use that feedback to create the kind of financial experience that encourages patients to stay.
The goal of any health system should be about building patient loyalty. And they can look to digital solutions to develop and strengthen patient relationships. First and foremost, patients want to feel empowered. “They have access to tools to be able to have control over their own financial wellbeing,” Boyter said.
Next, patients want transparency. “Being able to have a single EOB or a single bill, and a platform where the patient can not only take care of themselves, they can also look at [the bills of] their family members,” Boyter explained. “They can have it all in one place.”
That’s what Intermountain Healthcare did: they designed a patient-first financial experience.
It became clear to Todd Craghead, Vice President of Finance and Revenue Cycle at Intermountain Healthcare, that patients now choose where they go for healthcare based on their overall experience. “A lot of healthcare is focused on taking care of people when they’re ill,” he said. “And we’re going to do that as well and better than anyone else right now. But at the same time, we want to make certain that the billing and financial experience is top-notch, too.”
They designed an end-to-end patient journey to foster loyalty. “Intermountain proactively works towards keeping people,” Craghead said. He and his team have worked to develop an experience where people choose to return. “Margins are a lot thinner, and so keeping them inside of our network and working with us is important.”
In order to know if their efforts are paying off, Craghead and his team use Net Promoter Scores. With an NPS of 45, they’ve built a patient financial experience that is impressively in the same range as consumer-focused non-healthcare brands such as Target (43) and Apple (47). For comparison, the healthcare industry benchmarks average is between 16-27. “I just think that’s tremendous to see: VisitPay allows us to compare ourselves against other industries that are focused almost entirely on bringing customers back—creating loyalty,” said Craghead.
NPS scores give a good indication of patient satisfaction, along with patient comments made inside the platform. “You can see how people are feeling about using this technology to manage their financial obligation,” he said. “It’s been wonderful for us.”
As the healthcare industry looks to technology solutions to design a patient-first financial experience, an experience that achieves top NPS, it’ll need to be easy and seamless, from start to finish. As Boyter said, “We believe that from our feedback that simplification of the payment process is absolutely one of the major reasons why providers are electing to provide a less burdensome financial experience and to look at opportunities like what VisitPay provides.” It’s clear that Intermountain has found a successful path forward that empowers patients—in ways that make them happy and likely to return.