It’s a common myth in healthcare that discussing patient financial responsibility will make for a worse patient experience.
In fact, a West Insights and Impact study on patient experience found that 80% of patients want their doctors to help them manage financial responsibilities by clearly communicating what insurance covers versus what they owe.
According to Susan Milligan, director of patient experience with Ensemble Health Partners, avoiding the topic of financial responsibility actually can diminish the patient experience significantly.
“Nothing will kill patient experience faster than getting a bill two weeks after you’ve been seen and not knowing it’s coming,” Milligan said.
Discussing Patient Financial Responsibility is About More Than Just Collecting
Discussing financial liability with patients upfront isn’t just about telling them how much they owe – it’s about helping them be informed about their financial responsibility, helping connect them to financial aid, determining if they are eligible for discounts and helping them set up payment plans if needed.
In a recent webinar presented to the National Association of Healthcare Access Management, Susan Milligan partnered with Billie Jean Mounts, chief revenue officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health, to discuss how to implement a successful point-of-service (POS) collections program while increasing patient satisfaction scores. Using this approach, Bon Secours Mercy Health increased POS collections by 20% while consistently increasing patient satisfaction scores quarter after quarter.
“We are focused on taking care of our patients first,” said Billie Jean Mounts. “We look at POS collections as not just a metric on paper but as a way to make it easier for our patients to get care. How do we take care of our patients when they leave our facilities.”
Five steps toward improving POS collections and patient experience
- Develop an overarching vision to implement or increase overall POS collections, and ensure there is strong executive support.
- Plan interdepartmental initiatives to ensure an associate- and patient-centered implementation including stakeholders from across the organization, not just patient access teams.
- Communicate the vision to teams and patients and ensure a consistent message.
- Ensure you have the necessary tools to enable real-time eligibility verification and patient liability estimates to provide relevant and accurate information to patients as well as thorough performance reporting to monitor financial results and patient satisfaction throughout implementation.
- Set standards and expectations for leaders and associates to drive accountability, consistency and overall program adoption.
The most important thing is to never abandon the efforts. Stopping once you start can be damaging to your organization’s reputation.
The financial health of organizations and patients depend on clear expectations of financial responsibility, variety of payment options, associates acting with empathy to deliver an exceptional point of service experience. Taking these steps can be a differentiator that leads to higher patient loyalty and long-term success.
For step-by-step tips on establishing a successful POS program that enhances patient experience, view this expert guide here.
|By Susan Milligan, Patient Experience Director, Ensemble Health Partners|
Informed by her experiences in healthcare and as the mother of a child with Down Syndrome, she is passionate about helping healthcare organizations improve their patient experience through empathy, empowerment, and engagement.
These materials are for general informational purposes only. These materials do not, and are not intended to, constitute legal or compliance advice, and you should not act or refrain from acting based on any information provided in these materials. Please consult with your own legal counsel or compliance professional regards specific legal or compliance questions you have.