Creating Practice-Patient Loyalty
With the new mandates imposed by CMS, healthcare organizations will be required to post their negotiated rates in an easily identified, consumer friendly format. Is your practice prepared for the change?
What Drives Patient Loyalty?
It’s often helpful to start with a clear definition for what is patient loyalty. When we use the term, “patient loyalty,” we are referring to the attitudes held about a healthcare organization reflected in the likelihood of a person remaining a patient and refer additional patients to your healthcare organization. Patient loyalty is the outcome of several factors including the overall patient experience, word of mouth, and price transparency:
Patient experience – According to a 2018 Press Ganey report, patient experience is five times more likely to influence a brand loyalty than traditional marketing. Now more than ever, patients are looking for a healthcare experience similar to other shopping experiences in their lives. Quality care combined with a convenient way for patients to pay hospital bills online is what is needed to differentiate providers from others in their respective specialties.
Nearly 25% of practice revenue comes directly from the patient. With the rise in high deductible health care plans many patients are finding this burden too heavy to bear, which is leading to bad debt increases for healthcare organizations nationwide. By understanding the new financial challenges and opportunities your patients are facing, you can create a patient-focused financial experience to aid in collections and bill remediation.
Word of mouth – the experience of others is another large component to consider in long term loyalty. As out-of-pocket costs increase, patients are doing much more research - particularly online - prior to seeing a physician. This research comes in the form of reviews and peer recommendations. A survey by NRC Health found that 92 percent of respondents use online reviews to guide their purchasing decision.
Price transparency – In a 2018 Deloitte consumer engagement survey, 58% of patients felt that doctors should explain treatment costs with them before decisions on treatment are made. For a patient to be truly engaged, they must first receive the necessary information to make an informed decision. This information includes a full cost estimate of the procedure in relation to the care they will receive.
“The cost of care for medical services can vary significantly across healthcare providers,” Tom Meier, vice president of Market Solutions at BCBS of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Texas, told HealthPayerIntelligence.com in a written statement. “It’s important for members to have access to transparency tools that provide meaningful, actionable information, such as comparing quality and cost metrics to make informed decisions to get the best health care value.”
Once a patient leaves the office, the ability to collect payment for services decreases by as much as 50%, and providers anticipate collections taking up to a month. The ability to help your patients understand their charges as well as giving them flexible options to pay help drive both patient and provider satisfaction.
Currently only 20% of providers have implemented tools to help give their patients full price transparency. The ability to exceed your patients’ expectations by sharing the cost of their care upfront allows them the ability to plan for their treatment. This, coupled with the ability to adopt a payment plan, will ensure the bad debt for organizations decreases as their patient satisfaction increases.
The Impact of HDHP's on Consumer Loyalty in Healthcare:
Healthcare is entering a new landscape in which the patient has become a consumer of services, rather than just a recipient. Maintaining and growing a successful practice is now a balancing act of ensuring patients are content with both their care and financial experience. When patients are given their financial responsibility up front it decreases the cost-to-collect, risk of bad debt, and customer service calls due to higher than expected bills. It also improves patient satisfaction and loyalty. Authentic pricing transparency is a game-changer for providers.
Building Patient Loyalty
ImagineDiscoveryTM coupled with HonorCare® gives ImagineBillingTM clients the ability to show their patients exactly what they will owe and give them options to pay their bill in a way that best meets their needs. Providers need to view their patient with a holistic lens – their income, life circumstances and outstanding debts – which can help the patient be more than just a number. Practices that provide flexibility in their offerings can reduce their bad debt while creating loyal customers that pay their bills and refer their friends.