Financial challenges? 2017 survey says don’t overlook patient billing

Recently, the American College of Healthcare Executives released a survey of more than 1,000 hospital CEOs about their biggest concerns in 2017.

The number one issue proved to be the same as it has been since 2015’s survey: financial challenges. Unsurprisingly, rising operating costs, uncollected revenue for services rendered, and intense competition are at the heart of those concerns.

What is surprising, is how often the patient billing experience is overlooked today. It’s one of the most negatively viewed aspects of service from providers across the country. But, from revenue generation to customer retention, billing is an integral part of every organization’s finances. That makes improving the billing process one of the fastest and most direct solutions to address a range of financial challenges.


Reducing Operating Costs and Expenses

Increasing operational costs exert a huge burden on health systems. While much effort is directed toward coding and claims processing, healthcare organizations largely ignore efficiencies that can be gained in the patient billing process. By focusing on the needs of today’s consumer, health systems can dramatically decrease the cost to collect from patients. Take Sirono’s Patient Receivables Suite as an example.

The comprehensive communication platform of the Suite gathers all the financial information for a patient and all of their dependents, across departments, to provide one single view of the guarantor’s obligations. This leads to an overarching reduction to operating expenditures, including lower statement costs and contact center call volumes. With these efficiencies, staff is able to resolve many more issues every single day. With a high level of automation, a smaller contact center staff can do far more with much less.


Revenue Generation

The billing experience is at the absolute center of patient accounts receivable. When frustrated with the billing experience, only 33% of patients pay their bills in full. But when satisfied with the billing experience, 74% of patients satisfy their financial obligations.

That means an improved billing experience can increase payments by as much as 41%. Now that patient payments account for more than $330 billion in yearly revenue, the billing experience should be a top priority for financial management.  

Healthcare organizations that use Sirono have seen an average year-over-year increase of 35% in patient payments. With that level of revenue boost, organizations can fund other initiatives to drive financial improvements.


Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is also a top concern of healthcare executives, ranking at number five in 2017. No matter how much effort goes into the patient’s clinical care, a frustrating billing experience can spoil all the goodwill you worked so hard to earn. As the last touchpoint for patient satisfaction, billing is the perfect opportunity to secure all the benefits from happy patients.

People are 52% more likely to write about their negative experiences online, and each patient lost to poor service represents a loss of $200,000 in lifetime revenue. Improving the billing experience is key to fighting the financial losses from bad PR and customer attrition. But more importantly, a great billing experience better positions a health system to compete in their market and  creates lifelong customers. And, as we explore in this article, it can even increase your HCAHPS scores.