Understanding how your billing services affect patient satisfaction is critical to the success of your practice. As patients become increasingly empowered to make healthcare decisions — and increasingly responsible for paying the bill — hospitals and practices must ensure a positive billing experience. Patient experience and satisfaction is the number-one priority for healthcare executives, and a recent study shows that a positive billing experience leads to a higher likelihood that a patient will pay his or her bill or refer a friend to a provider.
In the study, results indicated:
- Of patients that were “fully satisfied with billing,” 74% paid their bills in full. Meanwhile, for patients that were “unsatisfied with billing,” only 33% paid their bills in full.
- Of patients “fully satisfied with billing,” 95% would return to that provider for future service and 82% would recommend the provider to a friend. Alternatively, for patients “unsatisfied with billing,” only 58% would return for future service and a mere 15% would recommend the provider to a friend.
Providers must be increasingly focused on patient satisfaction as healthcare shifts from fee-for-service to value-based payment arrangements. Value-based reimbursement models used by CMS incorporate patient satisfaction through data collected via the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. Among its comprehensive question list, HCAHPS asks patients to rate their satisfaction through questions such as, “would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family.” The billing experience has a clear, direct and strong influence on overall patient satisfaction, especially because it is the last interaction a patient has with the provider and thus is the "last impression" that influences the patients' likelihood to return to that provider in the future. A poor billing experience can wipe out a positive clinical experience. This direct link between patient satisfaction and revenue will likely become stronger because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal of linking 90 percent of Medicare payments to quality or value by 2018.
Billing in the healthcare system is notoriously complex and the radiation oncology specialty is perhaps one of the more difficult to understand. Patients not only have low expectations that bills will be accurate, but they also have a reduced sense of responsibility for paying them. Forty percent of patients do not pay medical bills simply because they do not understand them. Savvy health systems and practices are targeting the radiation oncology billing process because they see it as an area where they can harvest low-hanging fruit for improving patient satisfaction. Patients that are satisfied with billing are five times more likely to recommend the hospital than those that are not, so having a billing service that is an expert in radiation oncology can be a tremendous benefit to your practice and your relationship with your health system.