How The Patient Payment Process Influences Patient Loyalty

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A recent finding from Cedar's Healthcare Consumer Experience Study revealed that over 90% of healthcare consumers say the quality of their billing experience impacts their decision to return to the provider for future care. With the rise of healthcare consumerism, patient expectations are evolving. Medical billing and payment processes continue to be a source of stress and confusion for patients, leading to lost revenue and poor patient loyalty for health providers. As hospitals and health systems become increasingly reliant on patient receivables to maintain their bottom line, they need to engage patients in the payment process and promote a positive patient experience. In order to maximize patient loyalty and retention, healthcare providers must prioritize clarity and convenience throughout the patient financial journey. 

The State of Medical Billing

The shift towards a consumer-driven healthcare market has lead to patients being the new payers. Patient financial responsibility continues to grow, with 30% of insured patients struggling to meet their insurance deductibles and premiums. Furthermore, out-of-pocket medical spend hit a record $400 million annually, which corresponds to an increased cost of patient collections for providers. 

As the cost of care continues to rise, patients are demanding more support from their provider to navigate the complex and expensive payment process. Healthcare consumers seek a financial experience similar to that of other retail industries where technology, transparency, and convenience reign. A lack of clarity surrounding billing and explanation of benefits is driving dissatisfaction, as 55% of consumers find paying a healthcare bill to be stressful. The more difficulty a patient faces during the payment process, the more likely the patient is to avoid payment altogether, resulting in an overall negative patient experience. Moreover, patients that owe money to a health provider are unlikely to return for care in the future. 

Health systems looking to improve the patient experience and build patient loyalty must turn their attention to patient-centered billing, which focuses on price transparency, clear communication, accessibility, and digitization. 90% of providers are still using paper and manual processes for patient collections which are confusing for patients, not to mention expensive and inefficient for providers. By modernizing collection strategies and billing processes to meet consumer demands, health providers can significantly improve the patient financial experience and patient loyalty.

Building Patient Loyalty

Patient loyalty is defined as the combination of quality clinical are and a positive patient experience. Hospitals and health systems want patients to choose their brand over others when deciding where to get treatment, and therefore must recognize that the patient journey begins before the patient even gets in the door. With 44% of Americans struggling to afford care, the implementation and promotion of solutions that streamline the patient financial journey is critical. 

Positive health outcomes combined with high patient satisfaction results in a loyal patient base. 90% of patients reported that a positive financial experience influences overall patient loyalty, signaling that the financial component of the patient journey is extremely important to patient retention. As previously mentioned, patients are demanding price transparency, flexible payment options, and simplified billing statements. 28% of consumers will switch providers if their preferred form of payment was not accepted. Implementing a third-party patient financing partner has shown to boost patient financial engagement, leading to improved patient payment and patient retention. 

The care now, pay later model is gaining popularity among both patients and providers as a digitally-driven way for patients to manage their healthcare costs. Providers that offer flexible financing programs open their doors to consumers that typically avoid care due to affordability. By allowing patients to pay their medical bills in small amounts overtime, patients feel more in control. Furthermore, 52% of patients said they would return to a healthcare provider that offers flexible financing for future treatment. 

As the cost of care continues to rise and the healthcare market grows increasingly saturated with hospitals and health providers, organizations looking to stand out not only have to have top quality care, but also patient-centered billing processes that foster a positive patient financial experience. 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 boost patient loyalty. To learn more about the benefits of BridgeMed, contact us at info@mybridgemed.com, or visit our website, www.mybridgemed.com


 

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