It’s safe to assume that most Americans don’t enjoy paying healthcare bills. (Does anyone actually enjoy paying any bills?) Although paying medical bills may not top the list of things patients like to do, it turns out that providers can make the task less painful by initiating communication about healthcare costs. Providers should take advantage of opportunities to talk about costs with patients whenever possible, as this creates more cost transparency and, according to patients, leads to better healthcare interactions.
West recently conducted a survey to learn more about what patients’ expectations are when it comes to communicating about a number of healthcare-related topics. One key finding the survey revealed is that patients do not feel providers adequately communicate about healthcare costs, insurance and billing.
Eight in ten Americans (80%) insist healthcare providers should help them understand what is covered by insurance and what they are responsible for paying. The problem is, 45 percent of patients say providers are failing to sufficiently communicate about insurance coverage and patients’ payment responsibilities. Providers seem to be in agreement that more needs to be done to make costs as clear as possible. More than one-third (35%) of healthcare providers indicate they don’t think their organization clarifies payment responsibilities.
Here are three ways that healthcare teams can give patients the support they want by using their patient engagement technology (also known as their appointment reminder technology) to communicate financial information:
- Start communicating about healthcare costs before a patient’s appointment. The automated appointment reminders that are being sent to patients prior to scheduled appointments can take on a new purpose. Providers can use these messages to not only remind patients about appointments, but also prepare them for the possibility of a copayment. It may also help to suggest that patients discuss any concerns about costs with staff. This opens the door to further communication about healthcare costs, billing and payments.
- Proactively reach out with billing information and updates. Following appointments, healthcare teams can send patients messages to itemize the provided services and explain what happens next, whether that means sending a claim to insurance or a mailing a bill. This pre-billing communication helps patients know what is happening on the backend and allows them to plan and budget for bills in advance.
- Send patients payment reminders prior to payment due dates. Sending reminders when payment deadlines are approaching gives patients a nudge to either make a payment, or ask questions if there is something they need to clarify before paying their bill. All of these messages can be scheduled and delivered in the same way that appointment reminders are sent to patients. Adding these communications requires little effort from providers and can make a significant difference for patients.
For more ideas on how to leverage patient engagement technology to improve patient-provider communications, read Patient-Provider Communications: What Patients Want vs. What Providers Deliver or download 10 Ways to Fulfill Patients’ Communication Wish List.