A Guide to Improving the Patient-Provider Relationship
Patients are facing unique challenges, including the rising cost of health care. More than half of Americans delay or don’t seek medical care because they can’t afford it. Even if a person has health insurance, a high deductible means that patients may be paying most costs out of pocket. The result is that you’re now collecting patient balances directly from the patient instead of an insurance company. Improving the patient care experience and helping people manage some of their greatest pain points, such as the cost of care, strengthens the patient-provider relationship and may even improve health outcomes.
Understanding current trends, how patients use technology, and engagement tools available to help people manage costs can set you on the right course to improving the patient-provider relationship and driving more people to your practice.
Navigating fast-moving health care trends
Keeping tabs on rapidly changing healthcare trends ensures that you can provide patients with the tools they need most. For example, digitally-enabled experiences are a fast-evolving trend. People are using digital payment options to pay for a variety of services, including everything from “on-file technology” with their favorite online entertainment provider to one-click shopping with retailers. A patient expects these same conveniences from his healthcare provider. Studies show that more than 6.1 billion people will use digital payments by 2023, which is an increase from 4.1 billion people during 2017.
Consider delivering customized payment solutions that improve the patient experience. With the right tools, you can send bills digitally via text and email and give patients a fast and easy way to pay balances on the go. Additionally, you can use “card-on-file technology,” which allows you to store patient payment information and, with the patient’s consent, use it to automate future patient payment collections.
Connecting patients with greater impact
Patients who are paying more of their bills out of pocket want to understand the exact cost of care. Receiving a bill for an unexpected balance negatively affects patient trust and leaves that person frustrated and potentially angry.
Practices can improve their provider communication with accurate and upfront patient estimates. For example, ClearCalc allows you to check patient eligibility, analyze the patient’s benefit plan, and use a payor fee schedule to calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket expenses accurately. This empowers your practice to have conversations upfront about the cost of care, and if the patient is having difficulty paying for services, talk about personalized and affordable payment options.
Your practice can also improve communication and overcome language barriers with tools such as bilingual, interactive voice-response payments that improve efficiency, lower costs, and enable patients to pay 24/7.
Partnering with patients to create shared decision-making
Patient education is a critical aspect of the patient experience. People need to know what to expect before their visit, including the exact cost and any other important information to help them prepare. Focusing on patient education will help you provide what each patient needs most.
Encourage shared decision-making through patient engagement technology. A patient engagement platform is a system that is strategically designed to nurture relationships at critical touchpoints throughout the patient journey. For example, let’s say that your patient visits a physician and is worried about the cost of medical care. Your staff discusses the cost of care and provides an estimate of what the total fees will amount to. However, several weeks later, the bill remains unpaid. At this moment, you can send critically timed communication that helps the patient feel supported. The message can remind the patient that you offer personalized and flexible payment plans that fit their budget.
In addition to better supporting patients, an engagement platform can improve efficiency in your practice. Research shows that practice staff spend up to two hours a day calling patients. Automated patient outreach enables practices to repurpose staff time into other areas that improve patient satisfaction.
Creating more meaningful and engaging experiences
The patient experience is a critical component to your practice’s success. You want to provide patients with the highest level of care and communicate that you care deeply about each individual patient’s health. Building this loyalty and patient trust can have a positive outcome for your practice. Research shows that 12% to 15% of patients who are loyal to your practice account for up to 70% of your appointments.
Working to improve patient engagement and ensuring patient satisfaction with your practice will help drive retention, positive word of mouth, and online referrals, allowing you to serve more patients and grow your practice. The right tools and technologies provide the framework to enable this experience and do so at scale.