This article is based on a recent webinar hosted by Waystar about how revenue cycle leaders can leverage technology to elevate self-pay revenue strategies—while improving patient satisfaction and making the most of limited resources.
COVID-19 has created serious macroeconomic consequences in addition to medical ones. By the end of May, more than 35 million Americans had filed for unemployment. This job loss has caused millions to lose employee-sponsored health coverage and created a surge in self-pay patients. Those who have maintained their benefits are facing uncertainty about out-of-pocket costs should they seek care during this time.
For providers, it’s significantly harder to collect outstanding patient balances after the point of care, particularly after ER visits and inpatient admissions, which have accounted for many in-person care episodes during this crisis. In fact, according to the Academy for Healthcare Revenue, providers have only a 30 percent chance of collecting post-service compared to 70 percent at the point of service.
In June, Waystar hosted a live webinar on how hospitals and health systems can handle the needs of a growing self-pay population. Below are the four pillars of success outlined in that webinar. You can also watch the full webinar on demand here.
1. Expand your patient engagement channels and keep the lines of communication open
It’s important to meet patients where they are and create a seamless financial journey for them, from pre-service to adjudication. Communicating early and often about their financial responsibility—on the digital channels patients prefer—translates to more self-pay revenue. Many people now toggle back and forth between computers and smartphones, so it’s important to offer both communication and payment options on a multi-channel basis. From automated emails and text alerts to user-friendly estimation tools on your website, it’s never been easier to reach patients quickly and easily across devices. What’s more, flexible, digital-based outreach can often replace phone calls and standard mail, which can be a huge drain on resources.
2. Know your patients
The more you know about your patients, the better you’ll be able to communicate with them to more efficiently collect payment. For example, leveraging predictive analytics can help you forecast a patient’s likelihood to pay, the expected cash value of their account or if they qualify for financial assistance. When you consider that about 35 percent of patient balances are self-resolving and 30 percent of bad debt can be classified as charity care, what billing team wouldn’t benefit from that guidance?
Additionally, predictive analytics can help determine the ideal volume and frequency of outreach at the individual patient level, eliminating unnecessary touches some may find irritating. The right tool can also facilitate smarter resource allocation and cut third-party collection agency fees by highlighting accounts with a lower cost-to-collect that should be kept in house.
3. Personalize patient financial engagement
With a greater sense of a patient’s financial state, coverages and communication preferences, you’re in a better position to improve patient satisfaction and use resources as needed. The market’s best solutions score and segment patients based on account balance, propensity to pay and many other factors, and generate a recommended outreach plan. Research shows patients are most motivated to pay care costs prior to service. As such, many providers are choosing to establish flexible and tailored payment plans prior to care to give patients more financial clarity and flexibility.
4. Focus your staff where they’re needed most
With the right tools in place, patient payment can be simple. Leverage technology across the patient journey so you can deploy valuable resources and staff time where they’ll go the furthest. Predictive analytics can offer recommended workflows that increase self-pay collections. The right technology vendor should also be helping you track your self-pay collection performance via up-to-date dashboards and regular business reviews so you know how things are going and can identify opportunities for improvement.
The wrap up
We’ve all come to expect convenient, seamless payment experiences when purchasing various goods and services in our day to day. Spurred by the surge in self-pay patients brought on by COVID-19, rev cycle leaders are making strategic investments to create streamlined, multi-channel patient engagement ecosystems, designed with the needs of patients and billing teams front and center. When communicating with patients about payments, reaching them at the right time and with the right approach contributes not only to improved collections, but to patient loyalty and stronger patient-provider relationships.
Click here to learn more about how Waystar can help your organization follow the best practices outlined above, respond to rising patient consumerism and ultimately bring in more more revenue.
Waystar delivers cloud-based technology that simplifies and unifies the healthcare revenue cycle—and brings more transparency to the patient experience.