Medical payment collection keeps the lifeblood of every medical practice running. The business's longevity depends not only on the number of patients coming in but also on collecting payments from them. Independent practices rely on how much they're getting paid to maintain operations.
However, front office staff sometimes find it challenging and somewhat discomforting to do the job. It's a paradox in the healthcare business, where you need to be empathic about the condition of patients, but you also need to ask them to pay you for taking care of them. Collecting payments from patients carries a mix of contradicting emotions.
But the solution is simple. Implement a patient-centric healthcare model. Put patient engagement at the core of payments. Engage patients throughout their journey, from the start to the end, including the payment process.
So, yes, this means that getting paid begins with patient engagement. Here’s how it works.
From Start to Finish, the Patient Journey Includes Showing That You Care
When patients feel uncomfortable and seek medical help, they decide to book a consultation, and their journey with your practice begins. The patient’s journey generally has three major stages: before, during, and after the consultation. A closer look at these stages shows the following specific patient journey episodes:
- Booking, scheduling, and confirmation
- Patient intake
- Examinations, laboratory tests
- Diagnosis or re-diagnosis
- Treatment options
- Immediate relief
- Medication learning
- Payment collection
At every step, patients have particular expectations, and healthcare offices provide them with varying experiences. Some practices focus on a few patient journey episodes, while others give extra effort to the consultation and payment collection.
However, each stage is an opportunity for medical practices to make patients feel they care about their health and not their money. Every experience may not directly relate to payment outcomes but contributes to a complete patient journey. So, when a medical practice gives patients a care-filled journey, it leaves patients healed, satisfied, and happy to pay.
Visualizing the whole patient journey picture makes practices aware of every opportunity to engage patients, be empathic, and get paid.
Patient Engagement Fuels and Nurtures the Patient Journey and Eases Patient Payment Collection
The importance of patient engagement in healthcare is comprehensive. Medical practices implement patient engagement strategies to increase the active participation of patients in their healthcare management and help improve payment outcomes. Patient engagement activities help healthcare professionals and clinic staff establish the necessary connection to develop a lasting collaborative patient-provider relationship.
Patient engagement activities include the following:
- Providing a convenient booking experience
- Educating patients
- Acquainting patients about their condition and possible treatment
- Responding to patient feedback
- Guiding patients with treatment plans
- Designing a care management strategy
- Helping patients recuperate fast
- Following up on patient medication
- Sending reminders to patients for appointments and medication
- Updating patients on lab results and findings
- Encouraging patients to visit for preventive care regularly
- Inviting patients to attend learning sessions related to their conditions
Medical practices can integrate patient engagement activities from the first moment patients contact them online, creating a positive, long-lasting first impression. For example, when practices offer 2-way texting, the first physical contact with patients becomes more engaging. They are more familiar with the healthcare provider and are more comfortable speaking in person.
After the first meeting, you can further engage patients by sending reminders via 2-way text messaging. They can confirm, cancel, or reschedule an appointment. This patient engagement strategy reduces patient no-shows, benefiting both patients and practices. It can also avoid no-show fees, which can be challenging to collect.
Another patient engagement strategy is streamlining the patient intake process. Patients detest waiting, and delays are costly to the healthcare system. One source of office inefficiency is long wait times. Clinic delays often result from patient intake office inefficiencies.
As a solution, practices can level up their patient intake procedures by offering online patient forms that patients can complete before their appointment schedule.
Payment Collection Is Easy with Effective Patient Engagement
Medical practices can sustain patient engagement during a scheduled appointment by consistently giving power to patients over their healthcare management. Patient involvement in care is the essence of patient engagement. The strategy's success depends on how much patients collaborate with their providers to diagnose, treat, or manage their condition.
Patient engagement strategies at this stage involve:
- Encouraging patients to talk
- Listening to their complaints of symptoms
- Educating them about their condition
- Explaining to them the diagnosis
- Elaborating and guiding them on treatment options
When patients feel the power and control that providers give them, they are more cooperative in discussing options, following treatment plans, and assessing the financial aspect of the treatment and medication. Also, it encourages patients to settle their payments quickly as they view the provider as deserving because of the services provided and the established relationship.
Patient engagement is comprehensive. Its implementation encompasses any stage of the patient journey, including payment collections. The buildup of positive patient engagement outcomes could quickly turn bad simply because of payment complications.
Nowadays, people can buy anything with a swipe of a card or a tap on their phones. And, as more patient services become available online, patients expect the same ease with payments. Therefore, practices should consider secure online payment options to take care of copays, deductibles, and other fees with convenience.
To conclude, getting paid for your medical practice starts with giving patients the best experience even before they set foot in your office and until they feel better about their health and say, "thank you" with a big smile. One of the best ways to achieve this is by using a leading patient-centric application, Curogram, which enables your practice to engage patients from the start of their journey to when it is all over.
It offers the necessary tools for you to implement patient engagement activities and get paid, such as convenient 2-way text messaging for booking, online patient intake procedures, and online payment options, all on one platform. With Curogram, you can easily engage with patients and make their overall healthcare journey satisfying, which will make them more than happy to settle their bills.