“When my daughter was born 21 years ago, our out-of-pocket cost was $50. Today, a family might spend $5,000 or more. Hundreds of billions of dollars of responsibility has shifted to patients—and providers are struggling to collect. We’ve entered an era in healthcare where a focus on ‘patient financial engagement’ is critical. Patients must take much more responsibility for their healthcare costs, and providers need to offer more financial education to help them.” – Apex CEO Brian Kueppers, HIMSS Business Edge
Millions of additional people are securing insurance on the new exchanges, often with higher-than-average deductibles as compared to common workplace-type plans. As of July 2014, approximately 10 million newly insured patients have entered the healthcare system as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Financially engaging and educating these first-time health insurance buyers is critical for healthcare providers, in order to optimize the collection of patient payments.
To achieve this goal, Apex uses specific words and messages on patient statements as a means of educating patients on available payment solutions and promoting customer billing services. In addition to establishing the healthcare provider’s voice, this messaging also provides valuable information meant to make the payment process easier and faster for patients. Some important best practices include:
- Tailoring messages to provide relevant financial information and resources based on client demographics and payment history;
- Providing traditional and digital payment options that enable patients to quickly and easily pay their medical bills in a way that is convenient and comfortable for them;
- Featuring business office phone numbers and operating hours for billing questions underneath the company logo;
- Highlighting patient account numbers to make it easy to make inquiries with the business office;
- Clearly labeling the type of statement (i.e. Hospital Statement) and age of balance (i.e. “Second Notice”); and
- Simplifying and minimizing charge information in detailed service descriptions with the use of fewer columns and consistent fonts.