3 Tips to Improve Healthcare Communications with Patients
If you’re a healthcare provider, you know how important it is to improve your revenue cycle processes, more specifically, your patient communications.
It turns out that effective healthcare communication can provide your patients with peace of mind, which will resonate across many areas of your revenue cycle process. Developing improved communication with the patient including: a written “patient pay” policy, easy-to-use tools like credit card and insurance card scanners, will create better-informed patients which will improve patient satisfaction and the financial performance of your practice.
3 Methods for Effective Healthcare Communication
In today’s world of increasing high deductible health plans in the market place, patients are absorbing a larger percentage of responsibility of every healthcare dollar. The problem is, many of the patients are confused by the numerous and disjointed patient statements they receive. When someone receives a piece of mail clearly stamped “this is not a bill,” they probably won’t pay it. Which means, if the insurance also doesn’t pay it, it goes back to the patient and causes confusion. This type of back and forth can cause gaps in your revenue cycle, unhappy patients, and needless stress.
Here’s how to improve matters.
1) Communicate with your Office Manager
It may sound obvious, but your Office Manager is on the front lines of patient communication along with your front desk staff. They can all work together to alleviate simple misunderstandings by educating the patient from the initial phone call to set the appointment, while the patient is in the office during their visit as well as after the patient leaves the office during the insurance billing process.
Explain to the patient the inherent problems that might be localized their insurance company or the provider’s specialty so they can realize how the revenue cycle works as it relates to their encounter. Your office manager will need to take ownership to create a more efficient and effective process.
For example, your Office Manager can develop an internal checklist for the staff and also one for the patient to ensure an improved communication process.
2) Establish a Protocol for Discussing Your Patients’ Payment Responsibilities
In today’s shifting insurance landscape, it can be confusing to the patient as well as the staff about what’s covered by insurance and what’s not. Most patients understand more about their cell phone plan than they do about their insurance plan. Your staff can establish clear expectations from the start. When your patient calls for an appointment, your staff person can discuss payment expectations then, so there are no surprises.
Providing estimates and taking full or partial payment via simple tools like credit card processors and online payment portals that offer “credit card on file” can greatly streamline your revenue cycle management process.
It also helps keep your patients happier because they have a clear understanding and specific expectations from the outset.
3) Coordinate with Insurance
While patients may understand the increasing complexity of their insurance plan many understand they have increasing out of pocket responsibility, your team can guide them through this process by providing them specific patient responsibility amounts owed rather than estimates. The patient deductible and/or coinsurance responsibility amount can be obtained by your practice utilizing several technology platforms. Since your practice will have this information while the patient is at the office, they will be more successful in collecting patient dollars at the time of service.
Effective healthcare communications start with clear lines of communication within the office setting. From the physician to the practice administrator down to the front desk staff, everyone has an important role in communicating to the patient what their about their responsibility and expectations are in the revenue cycle process
When you provide your staff with the tools and training to improve your revenue cycle management process, your practice will reap the benefits of increased patient satisfaction and a healthier financial future.