Patients have always been at the center of clinical care. But the same has not always been true on the business side of healthcare. Providers have traditionally relied on insurers for revenue, making patient billing only an afterthought.

However, healthcare consumerism is transforming the business of healthcare by placing greater emphasis on patient collections and the patient financial experience.

Today, over 35 percent of provider revenue now comes from patient payments – largely due to the shift in financial responsibility from employers to employees.

Providers are relying more on their patients for revenue generation and collection, making the patient financial experience a top priority for business leaders.

According to a 2018 survey, half of patients who reported having a negative billing department experience didn’t pay their bills in full due to complicated billing processes.

When patients are confused and frustrated by healthcare payment systems, oftentimes the result is that they take longer to pay and are more prone to default.

With the current Covid-19 pandemic, every industry is seeing drastic changes in how they operate their businesses – healthcare is no exception. The patient-centric approach, which has been constantly talked about but often rarely implemented, has now entered the spotlight.

Patients are accustomed to typical retail consumer experiences that are digital, seamless, and very user-friendly.

In a work-from-home world, having the right technological tools is critical to getting paid. Providers need to engage with patients to protect their bottom line and deliver a valuable experience to keep them coming back.

Patients will leave a practice or provider for a competitor that offers a more patient-centric alternative. To thrive in the “new” economy, providers can no longer rely on the traditional business model.

Here are 3 strategies to consider to become more patient-centric:

  1. Improve patient communication and interactions by having patient financial advocates 

Providing patients with a view of their costs and responsibilities and then educating them on different options to meet them can make the patient payment process more customer-centric.

By having patient financial advocates who can engage in financial conversations, your facility enables patients to be in the driver seat regarding their financial responsibilities, giving them choices and input on decisions around how they pay for care.

In order to create a better financial experience, what all patients need is just a little bit of help.

Before offering financing — before offering a payment plan — before offering a payment portal — offer first to explain their balance!

Patients will be much more likely to pay this way. Patient financial advocates can help in many ways to provide a consumer-centric experience:

  • Educating patients on what they owe for treatment and why they owe this amount whether in advance of receiving care (providing an estimate) or even aftercare.
  • Answering patients’ questions and helping patients cover their financial responsibility, including offering payment plans and financing options to cover surgical costs.
  • Informing patients what things your facility can do to help them given their current situation.
  • Helping patients plan better and make more educated decisions about a path forward.

Working with patients based on their actual needs will help create a positive financial relationship with them, thereby increasing patient loyalty and boosting collections performance.

  1. Utilize contactless payments, payment plans, and online payment portals

Household consumer debt hit a new record in the first three months of 2020 at $14.3 trillion.

With the economic fallout brought about by the pandemic, it is expected that all types of debt will continue to rise during the first quarter of 2021 in the United States.

Online payment portals that allow patients to make self-serve payments, manage their accounts, and set-up payment plans have now become essential as the world transitions.

A recent survey by BillingTree found that consumer payment portals saw the most significant increase in payment channels due to the pandemic.

Patients can log on 24/7 to view easy-to-understand bills. They can pay bills for multiple services and procedures in one conveniently centralized place instantly and electronically – the same way they do at online retail websites.

However, to be more patient-centric, providers need to be more flexible and allow patients to set up their own payment plans. A 2019 study by The Health Management Academy covering 180 hospitals in the top 20 US health systems found that while most health systems (82%) offer low or no interest payment plans to patients, only 41% of health systems stated that they provide self-select payment plans to their patients.

Due to the pandemic, the fear of contact with contaminated surfaces has given a real boost to the use of contactless payments.

With the pandemic-related acceleration towards digital, now is the pivotal moment for providers to add contactless payment solutions like Text-to-Pay to their digital pay offerings.

  1. Leverage patient-centered revenue cycle management (RCM) metrics

The 2019 study by The Health Management Academy revealed that most health systems leverage traditional RCM metrics over patient-centered metrics. While a majority track online payments or patient satisfaction, less than half (41%) track more than two patient-centered metrics.

Health system-centric metrics include: Net Collection Ratio, Claims Denial Rate, Time to Collect, Charge Lag, etc.

Patient-centric metrics might include: Online/SMS Payments, Online Patient Portal Usage, Patient Satisfaction, Time to Bill, Self-Serve Payment Plans, etc.

The traditional revenue cycle metrics focus on the financial wellbeing of their health system. To be more patient-centric, you need to integrate more patient-focused measures, including online payment rates and patient satisfaction.

With the changes brought about by the pandemic, we are entering into a work-from-home world where people are more available at home on their phones and computers.

To step up, your organizations may also establish additional patient metrics beyond the revenue cycle. These metrics include:

  • Net promoter score
  • Call abandonment rate
  • Call wait times
  • Total number of phone calls received
  • Number of days for appointment scheduling

Providers who adopt these patient-centric strategies and approaches will reap multiple benefits for themselves and their patients.


About Mnet Health

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

Mnet is the premier revenue cycle management & technology provider to the surgical industry. We provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. As of 2020, Mnet Health partners with over 700 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor of both United Surgical Partners International (USPI) and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) – both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices.

Mnet’s custom brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay. Mnet’s patient-pay solutions significantly increase self-pay collections while creating a better financial experience for patients. For more information, visit https://mnethealth.com.