How the Payment Process Impacts HCAHPS scores

Have you ever had a great clinical experience in a hospital or clinic, then have that feeling soured by a horrible billing process? Healthcare organizations go to every length to ensure you’re comfortable, informed, and attended to while you’re in their care. But, they fall short by ignoring customer service once you’ve left their facility.

The billing process is the final act of customer service, and it’s the last chance to make a positive impression. While it’s becoming known that a frustrating billing process slashes payment rates–to as low as 33%–it also cuts into the reimbursements that are tied to HCAHPS scores.

If you’re skeptical, put yourself in the patient’s shoes.

You’re receiving bills you don’t understand that are higher than expected. The entire process of reaching customer service representatives, creating payment plans, and making payments is extremely inconvenient and confusing. Then you receive an HCAHPS survey. So how would you answer the following two questions?

  1. We want to know your overall rating of your stay at [FACILITY NAME].
    • (0-10)
  2. Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family?
    • <1> Definitely no, <2> Probably no, <3> Probably yes, or <4> Definitely yes?

Chances are, you’d give the lowest scores that you possibly could. Considering that 85% of patients believe the billing and payment experience is a critical part of healthcare, and in some states, billing complaints have risen more than 1,000%, it’s certain that some of your patients have sabotaged your HCAHPS scores over billing resentments. More importantly, they’ll continue to do so–unless you make a change.  

The fastest way to improve customer service in billing–and your overall HCAHPS scores–is to focus on the following:

Communication: From pre-service estimates and adjustment alerts all the way through questions about final charges, your team needs to thoroughly explain the financial aspects of the patient’s care at every step. It’s also vital to go beyond the standard 9-5, Monday-Friday helpline hours for patients who work during those times and need (or simply prefer) text and email options.

Clarity: Even the most reasonable charges will be met with suspicion and frustration if they aren’t clearly explained. Unfortunately, the practice of splitting one service into multiple bills perplexes patients and sometimes even billing agents. Crystal clear, consolidated charges for past and current services is a prerequisite for satisfactory billing.

Self-Service: Waiting an hour for someone to do something that only takes you ten minutes is universally frustrating, and that applies to both finding information and making payments. When healthcare organizations provide billing information online and enable patients to create their own payment plans, they make the payment process work on the patient’s terms.

While it’s true that the billing process is only one factor of many for HCAHPS survey takers, it’s almost entirely overlooked by healthcare organizations. That means it’s ready to be improved right now.

At Sirono, we’ve created a platform that builds communication, clarity, and self-service into every step of the payment process. Contact us today and increase your HCAHPS scores through better billing and payment experiences.