Patient Experience Isn’t an Event, It’s a Journey

Apex Revenue Technologies

In a recent study, we asked healthcare financial leaders if patient financial experience is critical in their overall RCM strategy. Their answer was yes, and here’s why:

  • 87% of respondents tie a positive patient financial experience to referrals
  • 84% associate a positive experience with patient loyalty, and
  • 77% believe a strong patient financial experience will improve collections

When we talk to leaders about tactics, however, how to go about achieving the experience patients crave is less certain. In fact, we find initiatives to be far less focused on patient experience, but rather isolated events—point of service conversations, statement clarity, online transactions, flexible payment options, etc. While these efforts undoubtedly create better interactions, they fall short of sustaining remarkable experiences. 

That’s because patient financial experience isn't a point in time event, and patients don’t follow one path. Patients control their journey, and conversations, communications, tools and tactics may present themselves anytime, anywhere. So, building a cohesive and truly exceptional patient experience requires an understanding of each patient that infuses their full financial journey.

Here’s an example. Providers are orienting staff and tools to support payment conversations pre-service. But not all patients act, and insights gathered during these conversations typically don’t carry through to the back-end billing and payment process in a pervasive way. That drives inconsistency, which creates an unremarkable experience.

Patient understanding becomes the connective tissue that brings consistency to the journey and appropriateness to the experience.

According to Gartner, Connecting Process to the Customer: Take the Customer Journey, business process professionals commonly take an inside-only view of process that relegates them to a single undifferentiated swim lane in customer journey diagrams.

That couldn’t be truer in revenue cycle. Consider the collection workflows that kick in post-service.  Foundationally, it’s a sound approach. Use patient balance and propensity data to set the path—an outreach cadence to balance costs while increasing the likelihood of collectability. However, these hard and fast metrics lack human insight. Those workflows are made up of people, thousands of individuals that engage differently and act differently. They will choose their own path.

We want patients to reach their destination—financial resolution—in a way that’s not only satisfactory, but distinctive, efficient and effective. Providers can accomplish this by creating a more dynamic financial journey that is based on patient understanding.

To know the patient is to anticipate their needs, help them navigate options that fit them, and adapt the financial journey to the path they choose, either explicitly by preference or implicitly through behavior. By understanding the patient, we can personalize their experience to earn their loyalty and secure the financial benefits that come with it. 

Here’s an example of how patient understanding improves patient experience by connecting people to a financial journey that fits them. To see what a 2% improvement can mean in revenues, download this success story.