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Measuring the Patient Financial Experience: A Discussion with Healthcare Industry Experts

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly clear to both patients and health systems that a better patient financial experience is needed. But how does a health system go about such a transformation? That’s where things are less clear. So, we partnered with TransUnion Healthcare to bring together some of the top minds in the industry—to start a conversation about what’s working for these healthcare leaders in a webinar focused on the “End-to-End Patient Engagement: Creating Customized, Consistent, and Convenient Experiences.” 

The panel, moderated by Will Reilly, VisitPay’s Chief Marketing Officer, included Joan Cox (National Senior Director of Patient Experience at Steward Health Care System), Katie LeBleu (Director of Patient Experience at Christus Health), Jasper Ligon (Revenue Cycle Manager at INTEGRIS Health) and Jeff Howes (Assistant Vice President – Revenue Cycle at Intermountain Healthcare).

The discussion was an insightful exploration of the opportunities and challenges in today’s patient financial experience, and what health systems can do to build long-lasting relationships with their patients. There was no shortage of helpful takeaways, but one question seemed especially valuable for health systems: how do you measure the success and satisfaction of your patient financial experience?

Measuring the Patient Financial Experience Leads to Better Communication

Historically, measuring a health system’s revenue cycle or financial journey has been difficult—and rarely done to any significant level. One-off moments, like patient complaints, could hardly paint a reliable picture of patient sentiment or process effectiveness. Now, as health systems look for pain points in their own financial experience, or benchmarks to measure improvement, they need a quantifiable system of measurement.

Joan Cox of Steward Health Care System said they use survey questions in their post-visit patient communication regarding payment collection and insurance. “I think it’s absolutely critical for any system to be able to really, truly understand what the patient voice is saying,” says Cox. “And that has to be real-time. It can’t be incremental and interval. It has to be a continual conversation.” She says they don’t simply wait for complaints to come in. They monitor the survey responses closely and respond in real-time. Cox says that patients are astonished by this level of personal communication. This can help health systems avoid unwanted negative incidents and maintain their online reputation. “They’re not going to go out to Google or WebMD and leave a nasty comment,” she says. “Because they just want to be heard.” By responding to them about any issues they voiced in their survey, you’re doing just that: showing them they’re heard.

Better Understand Patient Journeys with NPS

Katie LeBleu of Christus Health says they use Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a way to better understand the patient journey. “It really helps us identify which aspects of the patient experience are driving satisfaction, and which ones are not,” says LeBleu. “What attributes do patients value, and what are they willing to make trade-offs with?” Having this quantitative data can show LeBleu and her team a path forward that’s based on real data. “It helps us prioritize our strategic direction and resources to improve the patient experience.”

Net Promoter Score, while common in many consumer-based industries, is still relatively new in healthcare. It measures the likelihood for a customer to recommend a particular service to a friend. So, as healthcare becomes more patient-forward, and health systems strive to make a transition toward treating patients more like consumers, it’s a measurement that makes perfect sense. 

The NPS survey uses questions with a scaled response, from zero to ten. “If the answer they give is a zero to six,” says LeBleu, “a ticket is automatically created. We have our clinic managers immediately go in and review the ticket.” It lets LeBleu and the Christus Health team identify common themes of what’s helping and hurting their NPS score and solve for friction in the patient experience. 

Just as importantly, the process allows them to respond directly to patients. Like Cox, LeBleu has seen a tremendously positive response from patients. She says their patients are surprised and pleased that someone is actually reading their responses, let alone reaching back out to them. “It’s a very transparent and authentic conversation,” she says. “And it’s personal.”

Conclusion

The entire panel of industry experts agreed that measurement is key in creating a patient financial experience built on data and made to foster patient loyalty. Net Promoter Scores—and other systems of measurement—are more than numbers. Jasper Ligon of INTEGRIS admits that, as his health system enters its third year of partnering with VisitPay, he had underestimated their patient population around digital engagement. 

By measuring the patient financial experience at  INTEGRIS, his team was able to identify patient wants and needs, leading them to create a more digital, self-serve environment. “Our Net Promoter Scores (are) way higher than I expected them to be,” he says. Measurements like NPS not only show you where you are now. They show you where you can improve, and then let you measure as you go—so you can see the improvement as it happens.

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