Patients’ expectations and dissatisfaction with medical billings have been growing exponentially. As consumers, they expect clear and transparent medical billing statements with the ability to quickly pay providers for their service.
Since the healthcare system is shifting towards a consumer-driven environment, keeping up with consumers’ expectations at every encounter is imperative to a satisfactory healthcare experience. Consumer-friendly billing statements are also more likely to get you paid for services sooner. Therefore, it is worth optimizing your medical practice’s revenue cycle.
What is patient-friendly medical billing?
The HFMA Patient Friendly Billing Project is a major program that pushes healthcare providers to make their medical statements and billing procedures easier to follow.
Here are some qualities of patient-friendly medical billing statements:
- They are concise
- They use clear language
- All information is correct, excluding any estimates, incomplete information, and errors
Key practices of a patient-friendly medical billing system:
- Keeps the needs of the patient and family at the forefront
- Coordinates with insurers to provide accurate information, ensuring that this process is completed efficiently and privately
- Communicates financial information after the medical encounter, if possible
- Uses language that simplifies the financial communication in the medical billing statement to the average reader
- Accounts for feedback from patients and consumers to continuously improve the system
So, keeping the philosophy of patient-friendly medical billing in mind, what are the 3 practices you need to focus on while revamping your hospital’s medical bill?
- Brand and balance
Focus on your brand and balance: the two most important take-aways from the bill. Upon receiving the document, the patient should know exactly how much money they owe and who they owe it to.
Most patients can’t tell one medical bill from another. A unique and impressionable logo and design, using a custom color palette will help your medical statement stand out from the pile and ensure higher chances of timely clearance of due charges.
This is also the perfect opportunity for you to build brand awareness and personal familiarity with the patient through this document of communication. It is not just the cosmetic appeal you cater to; an attractive statement also leads to a positive impression. This will establish customer trust which is a vital aspect of consumer-based healthcare services.
Next, ensure that your medical billing statement is formatted such that the patient’s eye zeroes in on the due balance. This will ease them through the process of figuring out the nuances of a usually complex bill.
Here are some tips:
- State the balance due in a visible color in a large, bold font size
- Place the amount due somewhere in the top half of the document
- Reiterate the amount in the payment coupon in the same font, size, and color
- Clearly state a due date near the balance to set the expectation
- Focus on the details
Outline all the details of the medical encounter in a basic format. Medical billing statements can be an obstacle course of complex jargon and numbers that simply hinder the average reader’s comprehension, thus delaying timely follow through on payment. Basic, yet clear formatting in patient-friendly bills allows the reader to receive only the information they require in transparent composition and speeds up the payment process.
You may include the following information in a bulleted list or table format:
- Doctor(s) name
- Description of service provided
- Date of each service
- The amount already paid by the patient or their insurance company
- Due balance (see note on Brand and Balance above)
- Money matters
If you’ve followed all the steps, the reader now clearly knows to whom they owe money, how much they owe, and why they owe it. But how will they pay? Your medical bill should now lead the person to their payment options.
Clear instructions explaining the multiple ways in which the patient can pay will exhibit your accommodation for all strata of patients. It reinforces that you want to make the process as easy and convenient for them as possible.
Patient preference may vary: millennials may choose to pay online while older generations would opt for more traditional payment methods. You must accommodate most of these methods, keeping mutual interests in mind. Some of these considerations are mentioned as follows:
- Can they pay online or in-person?
- Can they mail a check?
- Do you have self-service options like mobile payment apps, payment interactive voice response (IVR), or an online payment portal?
- Is there a QR code patients can use for mobile payment applications?
What if the reader is still unsure?
- Provide working contact details of the billing department for timely and efficient assistance.
Patient-friendly medical billing statements would also adopt a language and tone that creates a willingness to pay urgently instead of frustrating the patient and delaying the payment. Maintain a friendly but firm approach with the first notice, but you may change your language and tone with consequent notices.
As the account ages, you may use:
- Insistent phrasing
- Bold and underlined statements
- Red font color on certain statements to communicate urgency
However, maintain a tone of respect throughout this financial encounter. Discourtesy at any point may end up rendering a patient’s account going to collections.
Extra tips to make the financial experience more patient-friendly
- Send statements according to the patients
As stated above, there can be generational differences here. Some may prefer receiving medical billing statements online while others prefer receiving paper statements via mail. Keep these in mind when dispatching respective statements.
- Simplify jargon
Medical and financial jargon can be complicated for the average reader, so you should consider explaining the terminologies in an FAQ section.
- Contextualize the charges
Many patients get confused by the medical statements billing process because they cannot associate the charge with the treatment/provider/event. You may add simple descriptions of services or hyperlinks to relevant web pages to help the patient understand the charges better.
- Add a section on patient’s insurance status
Patients may sometimes become confused about where expenses have been covered by insurance and which come under self-pay. Infographics in this section may be the most patient-friendly approach.
- Integrated multiple billing statements
Integrate multiple billing statements such as radiology bills, lab bills, and doctor’s bills under one document so that financial documentation is kept concise and easy to track.
Conclusion A well-designed patient-friendly billing statement not only provides an aesthetic function but also positively impacts real-life outcomes such as the annual revenue cycle and patient satisfaction. All you need to do now is keep your motto in mind and follow this guide to fully reap the benefits of patient-friendly medical billing. After all, the patient always comes first.