Three Guidelines For Choosing A Patient Payment Partner and Ensuring Positive Results

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Three Guidelines For Choosing A Patient Payment Partner and Ensuring Positive Results

Most providers understand the increased importance of delivering a positive patient financial experience, especially now that patients are the third-largest payer behind Medicare and Medicaid [1]. But developing a new patient experience strategy can be challenging in organizations with limited resources or the in-house expertise needed to put such a plan in place.

Outsourcing part or all of the collections process can help. But not all outsourcers are the same, and it can be hard to monitor accurate results. Without that ability, providers may be putting their reputation, patient satisfaction, and their bottom line at risk.

The following are three capabilities to look for when choosing a patient payment partner and how to ensure optimal results.

1. Smart analytics. Verifying patient coverage and determining a patient’s propensity to pay are standard functions in the patient access process. But these workflows can be labor-intensive, time-consuming, and wrought with inaccuracies, especially when done manually. The best outsourcers will leverage technology designed to automate these processes. The resulting insights give providers the information they need to determine a patient’s real ability to pay—information that even patients themselves may not have. This enables providers to identify opportunities for financial assistance, which improves the patient experience and ensures that patients can afford to get the care they need. It also ensures that providers aren’t wasting collection efforts on uncollectable balances.

2. Patient responsibility estimates. Price transparency mandates are on the horizon and getting closer every day. Providers can get in front of the legislation by partnering with a vendor that can generate patient financial responsibility estimates. Choose a partner with technology that works seamlessly alongside your own systems to make reconciliation easier. Providing patients with this information helps them make more informed decisions about how to pay for their healthcare needs, and it helps providers collect more upfront. Whether you use the partner’s technology or the partner provides the service on your behalf, patients will appreciate the clarity these estimates bring. It also helps reduce the likelihood of “surprise bills” down the road.

3. Payment options. In a retail experience, consumers are given many ways to pay, such as at the time of check-out with cash, check, debit card, or credit card. Credit cards can be from a bank or other financial institution, or the retailer. New purchases can be added to revolving balances and paid over time. And payments can be made online, over the phone through an automated voice system or a customer service agent, or using their digital device. Retailers understand that making it easier for their customers to pay helps improve the customer experience and increases the likelihood of repeat business. It’s a shame that it’s taken so long for providers to catch on. The best partners will be those that model the patient payment experience after retailers by offering the same set of consumer-centric payment options.

What a successful partnership looks like

PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Washington, is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. PeaceHealth has approximately 16,000 caregivers, 21 physician groups, and 10 medical centers serving both urban and rural communities throughout the Northwest. Patient satisfaction and patient experience are high priorities for PeaceHealth. As part of that, they wanted to ensure that their vendors were held to the same high standards. But to do this, they needed a way to identify which vendors were not performing optimally. This required a comprehensive analysis of existing partnerships to gain insight into opportunities for improvement.

PeaceHealth partnered with Healthfuse to review its six account collection vendors, nine bolt-on technology vendors, two bad-debt collection vendors, and two post-payment review vendors. Healthfuse pulled the historical 12-month record for each vendor’s placements, gross collections, and fees. This information was used to determine current performance and then reviewed alongside vendor processes to identify and quantify improvement values.

With Healthfuse, PeaceHealth was able to identify nearly $3 million in collection improvement opportunities.

Maximizing vendor performance

Optimizing the patient financial experience should be at the top of every provider’s to-do list. Collection vendors can help by providing the expertise and technology necessary to transform the entire process, including reconciliation and patient engagement. But it’s essential providers don’t simply hand off the process to the vendor and assume a positive outcome. Vendors need to be held to the highest standards, provide the latest technology, and ensure the best patient experience and bottom-line results. Healthfuse can help give providers this peace of mind. Through its extensive database of collection vendors—including performance metrics and SLA terms—Healthfuse can ensure providers are achieving a positive return on those outsourcing investments. And that includes an optimal patient experience.


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