This article originally appeared on the Ontario Systems Blog. It is republished here with permission.

The 2016 InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments Report indicates 58% of patients polled wanted to pay their healthcare bills online, and 61% were interested in using mobile payment methods like Android or Apple Pay to pay their healthcare bill. In this day and age of electronic convenience, patients want more from their healthcare providers. And yet 86% of the same patients surveyed say they still receive their bills through the mail.

As value-based payments continue to grow, patient experience becomes key. How do you ensure each patient has the same experience as they communicate with your business office?  This can be difficult with disparate patient accounting systems and differences in quality measurement tools. Yet patients expect more, and providers need to provide the same conveniences other businesses do. To do so, you need to follow these three disciplines:

1. Provide multiple patient communication mediums: The digital age is here and consumers want the same conveniences they get with every other business. This means providing multiple communication mediums to the patient. Only having an inbound call center plus web portal is no longer acceptable. Patients interact with IVR, mobile sites, text and e-mail too. The technology to provide them with these channels exists today – so leverage it to provide the complete patient experience.  Not only does this make for a happier patient, it also reduces cost as fewer people will be forced to call into the call center for answers. Happier patients mean more repeat business, loyalty that is important in a much more competitive marketplace.

2. Aggregate data for one patient view: As you build out multiple mediums for the patient to interact with you, be sure they can see a complete picture of every account they have with you. If you have different patient accounting systems with multiple CBOs, you need to combine the data into one database so you can present a single unified view to the patient, and show them a complete picture of what they owe. Patients should not only see self-pay balances but those pending insurance resolution and denial appeals as well. If you do not provide this view, then patient frustration will rise, leading to more complaints and calls to your call center.

3. Embedded quality system: After creating a single database and the channels for patients to interact, it will be important to monitor quality. Typically, every provider uses scripting to handle patients who call in. The key is to ensure each interaction is as uniform as possible. With an embedded quality system recording calls and attaching them to the account, your supervisor can perform quality audits and score accounts based on required actions for each call. This should feed into a dashboard and subsequent reporting that leadership can see each month. With this data, you can now target key areas where training has the biggest impact. By taking one to two of these each quarter and providing specific training programs, your patient experience can continue to be the same across all your agents.

Managing the patient experience to provide all the channels they want, showing the complete picture of what the patient has open, and managing quality for human interactions are all keys to being successful. This leads to more repeat business, referrals and reduced staffing cost in call centers. Patients want the same experience as they have with other businesses through the same channels they use today.

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