Patient satisfaction is a difficult puzzle for EMS providers to piece together. Medics are driven by a sincere desire to help people, but patient satisfaction depends on so much more than the excellent care they receive. The patient’s financial experience — billing and payments — is a huge contributing factor.
Even if patients receive high-quality care and recover quickly, they may have a negative perception of their care if they are surprised by bills or frustrated with the payment process. In the face of rising insurance deductibles and an increasing number of self-pay accounts, how EMS agencies collect patient-responsible balances is becoming increasingly important to the success of the business. Regardless of why a bill goes unpaid, the costs to collect on those balances snowball: fewer patients pay, accounts receivable (AR) days and bad debt go up, and cash flow and revenue go down.
To change this narrative, EMS billers need to leverage modern payment platforms to handle collections and self-pay with a patient-satisfaction approach.
Billing Challenges That Lead to Patient Dissatisfaction
A variety of factors can adversely impact patient satisfaction, and not all of them are in the EMS biller's control. For example, patients are often frustrated when they receive bills that are disparate and complex, contain inaccurate or incomplete personal information, and require unaffordable cost of care payments.
As the old adage goes, control what you can and let go of what you can’t. The key to raising patient satisfaction levels is improving the parts of the billing process that are within a biller’s sphere of influence. There are several tools that can go a long way to helping EMS agencies do that.
How an Advanced Payment Platforms Can Improve Patient Satisfaction and Billing Processes
Many of the billing challenges that cause the most friction for patients can be solved with the right statement and payment platform. Modern tools can:
- Consolidate and give access to patient information across providers. For example, if a single visit included a doctor’s appointment, blood draw at a lab, and hospital admission, the patient would receive one bill for all charges — versus getting three separate bills, as is typical. Consolidating bills and payments for patients increases the chance of collecting.
- Send statements via email, text, or physical mail. Having the flexibility to create traditional and/or digital statements expands your communication channels, increasing the likelihood of reaching the patient and obtaining payment.
- Provide patients with a single link or QR code to pay all costs in one location. This consolidated footprint greatly simplifies the process for patients. Patients can pay their one bill by clicking a link, scanning a code, or sending a check, instead of juggling separate payments or logging onto different care provider websites.
- Set up payment plans or schedule payments. EMS billers can offer affordable and automated payment options, ensuring patients get help finding ways to pay over time.
- Minimize barriers to adoption. Built to be user friendly with features like simplified login options, these payment platforms are geared for the patient while also being HIPAA compliant.
According to Adam Younger, Chief Revenue Officer at PayGround, a healthcare payments platform for providers and patients, “More patients pay on time and are happier with their care when they can easily pay one consolidated bill online. Technology can create the meeting place for healthcare payments.” In fact, he added, “Sixty-five percent of patients would consider switching providers for a better experience with payments.”
Using Innovative Billing Solutions with a Built-in Invoicing and Payment Platform
EMS agencies with strained resources can benefit most from a payment platform that’s built into the billing solution, like ZOLL® Billing. The billing software features complement the payment tools in several ways:
- Find and enhance current demographic and insurance information with insurance discovery tools, providing billers with accurate and complete patient data from the outset.
- Automatically queue claims for submission, post insurance payments, and send notification of patient responsibility amounts.
- Automatically integrate with the payment platform to trigger statement generation. Statements can then be sent instantly via mail, text, or email, using demographic enhancement and verification tools to find and verify contact information.
Benefits of a Modern Payment Platform for EMS Billers
- Improve the patient’s financial experience and overall satisfaction.
- Mitigate surprise bills (when used in conjunction with insurance discovery and insurance verification tools).
- Preserve or improve the agency’s reputation in the community, leading to easier requests for funding and service expansions.
- Accelerate revenue collection due to timely patient communications via more channels, simplified statements, and a single place to pay.
- Reduce self-pay balances.
- Increase reimbursement rates.
- Lift administrative burdens:
- Automated, online invoicing eliminates the need to print, stuff, and mail paper invoices.
- Automated workflows replace the manual effort of uploading files and downloading reports with the click of a button.
- Fielding fewer calls from unhappy patients saves time and sanity.