Physicians and patients face pressing, converging interests in the decade ahead. On one side, there's an increasing demand for physicians — a worker shortage that is projected to reach up to 124,000 professionals. On the other, patient demands are evolving, with an increasing expectation for seamless, digital interactions.

How can physician practices meet rising patient expectations while also dealing with diminishing human resources? Having worked with hundreds of healthcare providers across the country, I've seen the benefits a streamlined billing strategy can have for both patients and physicians.

Investing in digital solutions can automate administrative processes and elevate the patient experience. Here's how healthcare organizations can streamline their billing strategy to improve overall wellness and support their revenue cycle teams.

The imperative for digital-first patient engagement

Many industries have successfully pivoted to the digital age. However, as anyone in healthcare knows, the stakes are higher, and the industry can often be purposefully slow to embrace new engagement solutions.

A digital-first patient engagement strategy speaks the contemporary patient's language. In an era where financial transactions, from buying coffee to booking vacations, are handled with a few taps on a screen, why should people expect any different from their healthcare visit? Patients aren't comparing their healthcare payment experience to other healthcare experiences, but to their interactions with industries at large.

Investing in technology tools that facilitate and prioritize digital billing and payments ensures bills are dispatched timely and efficiently. It means less time between service provision and payment, leading to healthier cash flow for practices.

Every moment a physician spends on administrative tasks is a moment diverted from patient care. By leaning on technology for back-office work, they're not just streamlining processes; they're returning time and attention back to the physician-patient relationship.

Patient-Friendly Billing Communications, Provider-Friendly Revenue Cycle

When patients receive a medical bill, they're evaluating their entire healthcare experience. For many, this bill is a tangible touchpoint, a reflection of their interactions with their physician, from the first appointment to post-care follow-up. Ensuring this bill is transparent, accessible, and comprehensive helps to earn the patient's trust and reflects positively on the physician's reputation.

Physician practices should pay close attention to utilizing text and email effectively for a comprehensive billing communications strategy. The convenience of a text message alert, informing patients of their bill's availability, complete with a direct link to view and pay, makes engagement easy and actionable. Email offers opportunities for more in-depth communication like itemized bills, payment instructions, and resources on insurance or third-party financing.

While it's important not to leave behind patients who prefer mailed statements, these digital communication strategies fit the habits of today's tech-savvy patients.

Pre-appointment digital strategies

We are not far from a world where most of a patient's administrative and billing tasks are handled before they walk in for their first medical visit. It's the power of pre-appointment check-in systems. By allowing patients to complete necessary paperwork, verify insurance details, and even make pre-appointment payments digitally, these practices can increase revenue cycle efficiency and reduce in-clinic wait times.

Unsurprisingly, patients don't enjoy paperwork and redundant form-filling. By digitizing this process, healthcare providers respect patients' time and set a positive tone for their upcoming appointment.

For physicians, the benefits are twofold. First, they're presented with well-organized, timely information, enabling them to prepare adequately for the appointment. Secondly, it significantly reduces post-appointment administrative tasks.

By leveraging technology to improve billing communication and streamline pre-appointment processes, practices can exceed patient expectations, boost efficiency, and emphasize the focus on patient care.

Transparent and automated billing systems

Uncertainty leads to mistrust, and 41% of patients say they do not feel that their healthcare provider is transparent about the costs associated with their medical care. From ambiguous itemizations to unexpected charges, billing can become a major source of stress. However, with the right patient payment technology tools, there's an opportunity for practices to transform this experience.

Automated billing systems that integrate seamlessly into a provider's workflow ensure bills are dispatched on time and accurately. By automating many of the routine billing tasks, errors are minimized, and efficiency is optimized. This significantly reduces the administrative burden on revenue cycle teams.

A healthcare ecosystem built for the future

I've witnessed firsthand the transformative potential of integrating advanced solutions into the healthcare revenue cycle. Payment technology vendors can serve as an essential partner in redefining a healthcare provider's billing engagement strategy.

The future of healthcare is undoubtedly digital. As demands on physicians grow and patient expectations evolve, technology will bridge the gap, ensuring that quality care remains at the forefront. By strategically investing in the right tools and platforms, practices can ensure they are well-equipped to navigate the challenges of today while being prepared for the uncertainties of tomorrow.

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Physician’s Practice | August 18, 2023

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