3 strategies to engage patients to pay their medical bills

Is keeping your patients happy important to you? How about increasing collection rates? Going to go out on a limb that at least one of these is critical to your business.

Utilizing a clear, fast, and simple process is key to getting your patients to pay their medical bills. If you can engage your patients with thoughtful communication and education throughout the revenue cycle, then you will boost the chances of them paying their bills significantly.

Abide by the simple strategies outlined below and you’ll improve retention, boost collection rates, and increase overall patient experience.


1. Continuous, personalized communication with your patients

Imagine if you didn’t get your check from a restaurant until 30-60 days after your delicious meal. You’d be a little hesitant to pay, even if you had had all the best intentions to do so when you ordered your food. By this point, after all, you have probably forgotten how good your steak was. Of course, you do not want to hound your patients with debt collector tactics right out of the gate. However, updating them on their bill status during their account’s “lifecycle” can be very helpful. For example, your insurance company has received your charges, your insurance has paid their portion, and your bill is being calculated and will be sent over in the next couple days.

Compassion, education, and advocacy are all important ingredients to successful patient communications. If affordability is a problem for your patients, improved communications can help them plan for a better financial settlement.

You may also find it useful to segment your patients based on demographics to ensure that you are addressing them in ways that will resonate. After all, kids don’t talk to each other in the same way that parents do, so why would you speak to both age groups in the same way? Informing a male millennial to make sure they pay off their bill before tuning into the new Game of Thrones might just do the trick. Also, a 70 year old may not opt for a text message alert over a letter, but a college-aged kid sure would.


2. Optimize your online payment experience

Most providers have implemented an online bill pay option by now. Placing a “Pay your bill” button on your website is a great start, but you don’t have to stop there.You should measure and optimize your site in order to hone in on the optimal online digital payment approach.

What I learned from working at a leading digital health marketing agency on Madison Avenue is that it is important to continually improve your website, not just because we could then charge you astronomically high fees, but because you can’t know that you have the perfect strategic approach without first testing out various strategies for engagement.


3. Focus on patient satisfaction

“A recent study showed that only one-third of patients who are dissatisfied with the billing process paid their bills in full. Conversely, three-quarters of satisfied patients completely settled their debt, and 95% remained loyal to the organization.  For this reason alone, it is critical to make sure patient payment strategies enhance the patient experience and satisfaction." - Stuart Hanson, Senior Vice President for Change Healthcare.

Focus on the patient and everything else will follow. Before giving out a generic survey to your patients, sit down and map out on what aspects of their overall experience you want feedback. Use the survey as a tool to identify and clarify which facets of your organization you can improve. If you treat your patients as consumers, they will be happier, and ultimately, your collections will be higher and your costs will be lower. Additionally, patient satisfaction scores are now directly tied to government reimbursement.

In the modern era, it is essential that healthcare providers know how to properly engage their patients. Feel free to shoot me a note if you’d like to discuss ways your company could improve in this area.


Matt Buder Shapiro

(216) 337 - 0461