Medical Articles & News

How to Convert the Patient Financial Conversation into a Trust-building Patient Engagement Opportunity

December 6, 2019 by Christopher Wolfington

It is hardly a secret that the most successful businesses have strong, enduring customer relationships built on trust. This trust can be strengthened with each patient engagement opportunity. This is especially true in health care where patient trust and organizational reputation are the foundations for success.

Unfortunately, there are often two conversational tracks occurring simultaneously—patient care and patient financial management. Even if your patient is happy with the care they receive, confusing or frustrating interactions about finances can quickly sour that good will. That is why more healthcare providers are turning to premier patient financial management leaders like FinPay to transform old revenue cycle management collection and AR practices that create a relationship-breaking confrontation into a service and trust-building engagement opportunity.

 

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Imagine if patients paid their financial responsibility before receiving care, and loved you for it.

Medical debt is an overwhelming problem for American households. Considering the fact that the U.S. spends almost $3.5 trillion on health care annually, it is not surprising that almost one in four Americans has had difficulty paying a medical bill recently. This is a crisis for American families as well as healthcare providers who have seen the amount of uncompensated care double in the past 10 years.

 

US spends 3.5 trillion dollars on healthcare annually

 

It may appear that this is an insurmountable trend that threatens the solvency of every U.S. provider, but there is a solution--patient financial management. By engaging patients prior to care to provide transparency, relevant education, and payment options, companies like FinPay have proven that providers can strengthen the relationship with the patient through the financial conversation and get paid 85% or more of total patient financial responsibility. 

 

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There are five key components to this patient financial management strategy: 

  • Greater transparency - In a recent study conducted by FinPay to measure how satisfied patients were with their pre-care FinPay financial experience, thousands of patients (11.3% response rate) gave a 100% satisfaction score when asked, “was it helpful that FinPay had an upfront and transparent conversation about their financial responsibility rather than just receiving a bill later.”  This clearly indicates that uncertainty about costs creates a barrier to healthcare and is an important aspect of a patient’s decision making process. View the summary of the study results.
  • Patient education - the lack of healthcare financial literacy amongst consumers is a major barrier to providers collecting patient financial responsibility. There is mass confusion about health plan benefits and medical bills. The simple fact is, consumers won’t pay for things they don’t understand. This is why the foundation of FinPay’s pre-care solution is centered on education. Consider this, three out of four patients don’t understand their Explanation of Benefits and, consequently, their financial responsibility. A patient financial management strategy that doesn’t include pre-care education will only confuse and frustrate your patients. With education, your patient becomes an eager partner who is committed to fulfilling their financial responsibilities.  In the FinPay patient satisfaction study, patients gave FinPay a 100% satisfaction score regarding education on patient financial responsibility prior to care. . View the summary of the study results
  • Payment automation - automated payment programs are easier for your patients and mitigate collection risk and costs for the provider. Though many patients prefer electronic medical billing and many prefer making online payments via a mobile device, only 3.5% of patients make self-service payments because it still requires the patient to manually make each payment, electronic or otherwise. As part of FinPay’s pre-care educational curriculum, we educate patients on all their pre-authorized payment program options and enroll patients into automated payment programs prior to care.  FinPay makes the process simple and easy, which is why patients pay more than 80% of their patient financial responsibility with FinPay. In the FinPay patient satisfaction study, patients gave FinPay a 100% satisfaction score regarding the explanation of all the patient’s payment options. View the summary of the study results
  • Engage early - most providers interact with patients about finances only after care has been provided, usually when a bill has arrived or a collection agent has called. In many cases, this has engendered enough confusion and distress, that salvaging the patient relationship, even with reasonable solutions, is next to impossible. Innovative patient financial management companies like FinPay recognize that the financial conversation is a trust building opportunity when done correctly.  The correct way is to proactively engage the patient prior to care to have a transparent, fair, and reasonable conversation about cost and payments. The proof is in the results. FinPay patients pay over 80% of their total patient financial responsibility and they have given FinPay a 99% overall satisfaction score in the process. When you do it right, patients pay and they love you for it.   
  • Make the last patient experience a clinical experience, not financial - in most cases, patients appreciate the actual time spent with the doctor who can provide reliable medical advice if not assurances of good health. Because this interaction is so often favorable, and it is a provider’s core competency, it should be the last thing the patient recalls about the care they received. Unfortunately, the norm in healthcare is the financial experience is the last experience. Too often, we see patient satisfaction scores tarnished by the frustrating and confusing billing, AR, and collection practices of providers. 

Making the financial conversation a transparent and friendly part of the patient’s pre-care journey will result in higher paying, more satisfied patients. Best of all, with automated payment programs, their last experience will be a high quality clinical experience.

 

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FinPay has quickly become an industry leader in patient financial management by pioneering pre-care patient engagement solutions built on risk stratification and artificial intelligence. You can learn more about these powerful strategies by downloading the free guide, “A QUICK START GUIDE TO PATIENT FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT (PFM).

Christopher Wolfington, Chairman and CEO of FinPay, LLC, is a business leader and entrepreneur with over 29 years of experience in consumer and financial services. Mr. Wolfington is currently living in Philadelphia, PA and continues to use his entrepreneurial talent to identify key opportunities and solutions in high growth markets.