Reduce revenue cycle management costs with a patient payment portal.
In the first part of this series, The Lab Revenue Cycle is Increasingly Patient-Facing and Digital, we addressed both the challenges and opportunities that arise from more interactive, self-serve modes of collection in the revenue cycle. A growing number of providers understand that traditional payer-oriented billing processes are insufficient to facilitate patient payments. Patient dissatisfaction and confusion over their healthcare financial obligations along with sub-par revenue capture are driving a transition toward automated, patient-oriented billing processes.
Patients often depend on their healthcare provider to educate them on the status of their claims, and increasingly some manner of automated, patient-facing billing and communication processes are becoming the norm. Meeting patient expectations for an online experience now offers providers a competitive advantage. Why? The vast majority of providers still rely on manual and paper-based billing, while larger healthcare companies have already moved to online patient payment portals.
The shift online and toward automation of the billing process is an opportunity to capture a greater share of patient financial responsibility more quickly, while reducing revenue cycle management (RCM) costs and achieving greater patient satisfaction.
Automating the billing cycle and implementing a patient payment portal offers a handful of measurable benefits, including:
- An improved patient experience
- Reduced payment processing costs
- Better cash flow and higher revenue
- Simpler tracking and reporting
An Improved Patient Experience
Consumers want greater control over and visibility into, their healthcare costs. Patient payment portals enable consumers to access their financial responsibility directly and understand more clearly their personal payment obligations once a claim has been adjudicated. They can pay their bills using multiple forms of payment, and if the provider permits, patients can even set up payment plans with scheduled reminders or auto-debiting.
Patients enjoy the benefits of accessing and managing their medical bills at the time of their convenience, as opposed to squeezing in a phone call and waiting “for the next available representative.” When support is needed, providers have the ability to connect using the patient’s preferred forms of communication from email to text to online chat, reducing staffing challenges and patient wait times (not to mention the costs that come with the need for manual staff intervention).
All of this adds up to increased patient satisfaction and loyalty.
Reduced Payment Processing Costs
Automation reduces the labor and process requirements around billing and eliminates many associated costs, including the following elements in a typical lab billing process:
- Handling of customer service inquiries; online self-serve portals help consumers to resolve some questions directly and eliminates others entirely.
- System generation, printing and postage of statements and dunning letters.
- Staff time to:
- Identify and validate patient ID (PID)
- Look up balances
- Answer questions
- Take payments
- Key in information changes and payment information; with a patient portal, patients provide and manage this information
- Verify details of payment
Better Cash Flow and Higher Revenue
Perhaps the biggest and most surprising benefits of automation and enabling patient self-service through a payment portal is 1) the fact that patients pay more quickly and 2) pay their obligations at a higher rate. Most revenue cycle administrators would gladly spend a bit more to improve cash flow and capture a greater portion of outstanding debt, but this is a rare opportunity to improve critical revenue metrics while also reducing cost.
Consider the following trends (source: RevSpring):
Patients are 21% more likely to pay when offered digital payment options
Providers reduce their printing requirements and associated costs by 30%
Patients pay seven days faster on average with 52% of payments made directly from a text message coming within 24 hours
Providers capture up to 10% more revenue when offering digital payment options
Because patients have a better overall understanding of their obligations, more options for payment including auto-posting of payments, they pay sooner and, collectively, pay a greater share of outstanding financial responsibility. Patients experience greater clarity and better control over their finances while providers enjoy improved cash flow, automated accounting, and increased revenue capture.
Simpler Tracking and Reporting
Patients’ lack of clarity around their healthcare obligations contributes to a widely held frustration with medical billing. It leads consumers to forego payment despite the ability to pay and even leads them to avoid care altogether.
In addition to empowering patients to see their pending obligations, patient payment portals enable them to track their healthcare costs over time. They can view and manage their statements, see their entire payment plan and when payments will be due or auto-debited, and confirm the processing of payments, giving them peace of mind.
It is not often that an RCM initiative can reduce costs and also improve so many aspects of the revenue cycle. If those benefits are not enough to compel a change, the gains in patient satisfaction and loyalty should be.
Labs looking to automate the billing process should look to an expert revenue cycle partner to implement an online payment portal. Ready to make patient responsibility easy for you and your clients? Request a strategy call here.
Let’s take on the revenue cycle together!