patient education

How to Better Educate Patients About Their Coverage Rights and Payment Responsibilities

Many healthcare consumers experience confusion and stress regarding their insurance coverage and payment responsibilities. They often have questions about when payments are due, how much they’re expected to pay and why their insurance doesn’t cover a certain treatment.

This can deter patients from seeking treatment at all. It can also cause patients to stop treatment before their condition has been resolved, and those who do continue treatment will become disengaged if their confusion and stress aren’t addressed.

Fortunately, all of this can be prevented with better patient education. If you’ve recently had a patient stop treatment due to payment issues or lack of engagement, consider how well you’re explaining treatments – and the associated eligibility requirements and payment responsibilities.

To keep patients informed at the start of and during treatment, use the tips shared below.

Effective patient education methods

Patient education is an ongoing process and a team effort. From front of house staff who schedule appointments and handle patient payments to those who provide patient care, all employees should be dedicated to offering the best patient education possible.

To help your staff do this, consider implementing some of the following patient education strategies:

  • Offer transparent pricing
  • Create flexible payment plans
  • Disclose if a treatment may not be covered by insurance

Additionally, stress the importance of correcting any misinformation a patient may have about their treatment. If their insurance doesn’t cover a procedure that is deemed necessary by their physician, explain the disconnect as well as you can, and discuss other payment options or procedure alternatives.

The connection between patient education and engagement

Patient education and engagement tend to have a direct relationship. When a patient feels well-informed about their eligibility and payment responsibilities, they typically take more ownership in the process and stay up to date with payments.

But when a patient feels like they haven’t been given the proper information, the opposite occurs. They may pay their medical bills, but they may pay late or not in full.

More importantly, the patient experience suffers. While they try to sort out coverages and out-of-pocket expenses, their treatment can be delayed. Their condition could change or worsen, requiring a new treatment plan, and in turn, a change in eligibility, coverage or payments required. If the burden becomes too great, they may find another provider or stop treatment altogether.

patient experience

4 Unique Ways to Enhance the Patient Experience in Your Organization

No matter how advanced medical tools and treatments become, human interactions will continue to play an integral role in healthcare. Patients will still need real people to provide eye exams, at-home care, mental health services and everything in between. Technology can make these things more accessible and easier to manage, but it can’t replace personal care.

This doesn’t mean pat­ient care will continue to be what it always has been, though. As new advancements make the role of medical professionals more efficient, it becomes the responsibility of providers to offer more than basic medical services. They now have to focus on enhancing the patient experience in every step of the care cycle.

Here are four things you can start doing within your organization to take the patient experience to the next level.

1. Treat people, not medical conditions

As much as patients want to find solutions to their medical problems, they also want to feel heard and empowered whenever they seek treatment. They’re taking ownership of their healing process, not looking for a band-aid solution.

This means your staff needs to make more time to listen and express genuine concern. Try to explain conditions and treatments a little more in-depth than you normally do and make it a point to show interest in patients beyond their health. Talk to them about their families and their hobbies. Remember their birthday and congratulate them on life accomplishments they may mention. Strive to be a friend and a medical professional, not just a signature on a prescription.

2. Give patients the maximum value for their healthcare dollars

Patients can Google one-size-fits-all answers. They’ve become accustomed to self-assessing their conditions and even treating certain health issues on their own without seeking any professional treatment.

When they do make a medical appointment, they’re looking for in-depth information. They want to know how to prevent the issue they’re currently dealing with from happening again. They want to get to the root of a problem to stay out of the doctor’s office as long as possible.

This may sound like it’s bad for business, but it would actually do you well to adjust to this shift in patient mentality. It can create better brand value and recognition for your organization and lead to more patient recommendations. And since more people are researching different providers before they make an appointment, it’s in your best interest to make a good name for yourself by going above and beyond standard care practices.

Such a strategy will help you capture new patients as they shop around for medical care and keep current ones coming back when they need more than at-home treatment.

3. Simplify patient payments

Patients have enough trouble understanding their insurance coverage; they don’t need to experience more financial stress when paying the fees they’re responsible for. Thankfully, you can make this payment process much easier on them by offering online bill pay options, like ABILITY SECUREPAY™. Instead of limiting patient payments to cash or check only, online methods give healthcare consumers the access they need to stay on top of payments. They allow people to conveniently pay for their medical services via a simple, easy-to-use portal. They also provide the option to save credit/debit card information for future payments and set up automatic payments.

4. Continue the conversation

Whether your patients come in regularly, every few months or sporadically, you should be continuing the conversation with them beyond one visit. Specifically, focus on providing better post-visit instructions in terms of medications to take and suggested lifestyle changes.

You can also use post-visit interactions to gain insight from your patients about what you can do better. A simple survey asking patients to rate your performance and provide feedback can do wonders for your organization. It helps you understand their needs/desires at a deeper level and catch things that may have slipped through the cracks in your workflow or staff training.

At the end of the day, the more you put into the patient experience, the more your organization benefits. It’s time to change the way you think about your duties as a medical provider and go beyond what you’ve ever done before.

revenue cycle management

Not Sure How Patient Pay Trends Are Changing? Find Out Here!

The smaller the gap between when you render services and when you get paid, the better. With so many potential blockers in your revenue cycle, though, it can be a big challenge to keep things moving.

Between communicating with payers, working through denied claims, and managing the payments that patients are responsible for, it’s hard to get a clear idea of when each expected payment will come through. Not to mention, you must also pay attention to the way payment processes are evolving!

This is a big factor in the revenue cycle that far too many medical providers don’t consider. It’s not enough to stay on top of the claims you’re filing today; you need to start thinking about how changing patient pay trends will affect your A/R cycle tomorrow.

Here are 3 major shifts in patient payment trends you need to be aware of.

1. Patients in some cases are more scared of their bills than their diagnosis

It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s true. High-deductible health plans are increasing their rates, and the changes to deductibles, co-pays and coverage causes confusion for patients, along with an increase in patient financial responsibility.

Add the fact that 28.9 million Americans are uninsured, and it’s no surprise patients are becoming increasingly concerned about how to pay for services.

So, what can you do? Make payments more manageable for your patients.

Explore the option of in-house patient payment plans rather than leaving patients on their own to work things out with payers. This allows you to maintain a strong presence within the growing market of patients who are uninsured or have a high deductible. It gives patients who are concerned about their payments an easy way to manage what they owe and how they’re going to pay. Also consider making payment processes more accessible by establishing a new patient system that helps people understand their eligibility and benefits.

No matter what your job title is, adjusting to changes in patient financial responsibility is tied to your purpose as a medical provider. Contributing to the wellness of your patients means helping them navigate the financial responsibilities associated with their health.

2. Outsourcing medical billing is on the rise

The good news about helping patients understand their payment responsibilities is that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Medical billing outsourcing is one of the smartest things you can do to ease patient payment concerns and better manage your revenue cycle.

The right platform can completely transform how you distribute invoices and process payments. It can give customer-facing personnel the extra few minutes in their day to talk through payments with patients, while also making each patient’s payment responsibility easier to understand.

3. Payment processing has advanced

As you’re looking into medical billing outsourcing possibilities, pay attention to the payment capabilities available. It’s not enough to simply offer cash or check payment options anymore.

Modern-day patients want a modern way to pay. They’re more likely to keep up with payments when they can easily access their medical bills through a credit and debit card-friendly portal. If you can save their payment information, offer automated payments or send out payment reminders, the results would be even better.

These responsibilities are simple to take on and implement on your end, and they make a world of a difference for your patients. They show your patients that you truly care about their experience and well-being, not just about how much you’re billing them and getting paid for.