Over the last decade, the financial relationship between patients and healthcare providers has undergone a shift. The rise of high-deductible health insurance plans and increased out-of-pocket expenses has morphed patients into consumers– researching providers and shopping for services before deciding where to get treatment. In order to maintain patient retention and consumer loyalty, healthcare organizations need to be proactive in engaging patients and offer solutions to those that struggle to afford care. By improving the patient financial experience, providers can boost patient loyalty and ultimately increase revenue through repeat visits and patient referrals. Below are five ways healthcare providers can improve the overall patient experience, thereby improving patient loyalty.
1. Be Transparent
Patients aren't just looking for the provider that offers the best care, they are also seeking out those that are transparent about the cost of care. As patient responsibility rises, patients want to know their financial obligation ahead of treatment.
Over 70% of patients are not aware of their payment responsibility prior to a visit, which signifies that providers need to be more forthcoming about financial expectations. By discussing costs early, patients are more engaged in the billing process and feel more comfortable making payments. Additionally, open conversation between patient and provider strengthens trust, increasing the likelihood that a patient will return to the provider for future care.
2. Be Engaging
Competition within health networks to recruit new and recurring patients have providers looking for ways to distinguish themselves. While there are many strategies to do so, one of the simplest ones is to foster a culture of support and engagement with patients, starting with communication and collaboration throughout the payment process.
With patients being treated more like consumers, they expect a certain level of customer service and satisfaction from the healthcare provider. 65% of patients said they would consider switching their provider in favor of a better payment experience. By understanding financial pain points for patients, providers can implement solutions that meet patients where they are, which has been shown to boost engagement.
3. Be Flexible
Because patients are already weary of the billing side of healthcare, offering flexibility gives them more faith that financial obstacles can be overcome. 89% of patients reported needing a year or longer to pay for healthcare expenses, and 37% of patients report they would skip treatment if the practice didn’t offer a financing program. Personalized payment plans put patients in the driver's seat on the road to repayment.
Providers that offer flexible, non-recourse patient financing programs open their doors to patients that normally would not be able to afford care. Having the option to create a custom plan gives patients more freedom to adjust the terms to cater to their unique circumstances, leading to a more positive experience. Furthermore, 52% of patients said they would return to a healthcare provider that offers flexible financing for future treatment.
4. Be Innovative
Another key factor in boosting patient loyalty: digitization. 59% of consumers said they want a digital healthcare experience similar to that of retail. Much like other industries, consumers expect healthcare to offer digital payment options and online patient portals. Introducing programs such as card-on-file technology, mobile bill pay, and text/email payment reminders, managing payments becomes more accessible and engaging for patients.
These technologies, along with patient financing programs, can be seamlessly integrated and branded as the healthcare system. 65% of patients reported that they would use a mobile application to pay for their healthcare costs, yet 86% of patients still receive paper bills from their provider. In order to boost engagement in the payment process, healthcare organizations must blend the convenience of high-tech digitization with the personal touch of human interaction. In doing so, patients have a more positive experience, and providers can expect patients to return for future service.
5. Be Consistent
Consistency is key in cultivating patient loyalty. Providers must maintain repeatable, positive experiences for their patients to not only keep them coming back but also to encourage referrals of new patients in the community. According to a recent study, referral leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels.
By maintaining a straightforward financial approach, both prospective and return patients will be more cognizant of the expectations and elements surrounding the payment process. Instead of worrying about costs and surprise medical bills, patients can focus on getting care.
Patient loyalty is an extremely important aspect for maintaining a strong bottom line and upstanding reputation. It is mutually advantageous that patients have a provider they can depend on and that providers have a solid patient base. Partnering with a third-party financing program such as BridgeMed allows providers to digitize patient collections, improve patient engagement, increase patient volume, and improve the overall patient experience to increase patient loyalty. To learn more about the benefits of BridgeMed, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website, www.mybridgemed.com