Patient payment behavior is changing the revenue cycle. Rising insurance deductibles and higher out-of-pocket medical expenses mean up to 30% of a health system’s revenue is now derived from the patient-as-payer population. In an interview at the 2019 Annual HIMSS Conference and Exhibition, Will Reilly, Vice President of Client and Consumer Marketing at VisitPay, addressed the impact increasing patient obligations has on the consumer experience in healthcare.
The revenue cycle is evolving from managing business-to-business transactions. It was designed in the age of government and commercial payers. Now the revenue cycle is a hybrid set of accounts receivable comprised of individual patients, insurance organizations, providers, as well as government agencies. The needs of the patient-as-payer are different from the needs of the more traditional government or commercial payers. But what does that mean for the revenue cycle team managing accounts receivable?
The needs of the patient-as-payer are different from the needs of the more traditional government or commercial payers.
The end-to-end patient experience matters
High costs and unsatisfactory financial experiences can sour a patient’s perception. If the clinical and financial experience is at odds with one another, the patient can become disillusioned with the health system. “Patients can have a great clinical experience. But if it’s followed up with a poor financial experience, then the consumer looks negatively on the health system as a whole,” comments Reilly. Health systems need to streamline their back-end and front-end financial processes, making them look, feel, and behave more like online retail or personal banking environments.
The way patients pay their bills compared to just a few short years ago has evolved. “We’re all individual people with our own wants and needs and behaviors. We don’t like paying healthcare bills; we pay them last. We find them hard to afford and difficult to understand,” explains Reilly. Patients care what their medical costs are, and they care about the experience, especially as they are footing a more substantial chunk of that expense.
Yet, when a revenue cycle team deals with tens or hundreds of thousands of patients, it’s a challenge to find the right data points or criterion to tailor engagement. “It’s challenging for the revenue cycle team to engage effectively,” Reilly says. “When you think about how people’s attitudes to bills are changing, it’s tough for the revenue team to find actionable information. When you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s tough to know where to start.”
Using behavioral segmentations as a blueprint can help revenue cycle teams engage patients more meaningfully. “You can’t engage with everyone as an individual. By building segmentations, VisitPay gives health systems a way to address the needs of different groups of patients who exhibit similar behavioral characteristics,” adds Reilly.
Segmentation techniques refined by retail, consumer finance, hospitality, and other consumer-facing industries can help revenue cycle teams personalize the patient experience and pinpoint critical touch points across the care journey. However, Reilly cautions, these segments can be fluid. Comprised of people whose individual circumstances can change quickly, it’s very easy for consumers to move from one segment to another quickly.
Providing patient-tailored and consistent financial information throughout the care journey can alleviate confusion, reduce stress, and minimize surprises. The findings from VisitPay’s national quantitative study give health systems a springboard to using similar segmentation techniques used in other consumer-centric arenas.
Watch the full video interview to hear these and more insights about how the contemporary revenue cycle is evolving to accommodate the growing patient-as-payer population. To learn more about patient segmentation, download a copy of The VisitPay Report.