Improve your online presence to help your organization become more efficient and achieve better outcomes, and make some money while you’re at it
The health care industry isn’t immune, of course, to the constant need to find and develop new streams of revenue. By improving your online presence, you can help your organization increase efficiency, get paid faster and achieve better outcomes. Here’s how.
1. Evaluate your online bill pay function. Many consumers now are paying their bills online, and the transition to electronic health records has inspired many health care facilities to offer online bill pay. While many have it, it might not be activated, or it might be too complex or hard to find on the website. If you have online bill pay, someone at your practice, clinic or hospital should test the entire payment funnel, starting with what shows up on the bill. Obviously, if it’s broken, it needs to be fixed, and if it takes a degree in IT for patients to use it, it needs to be simplified.
2. Make payment instructions simple. The paper invoice should include detailed, step-by-step payment instructions. Even your home page should include a “bill pay” button. When patients click on the bill pay button, those same easy instructions should be on its direct webpage, such as Hospital.com/BillPay.
If you are asking for an invoice number, the website bill pay page should show where that number is located on the invoice and offer an alternate solution if they don’t have that bill in front of them. The idea is to inspire people to check it off their list and pay it. If it gets put aside, it gets forgotten, and then you have the expense of rebilling that patient.
3. Keep patient credit cards on file.Amazon.com lets your patients keep a credit card on file, so why shouldn’t your health care facility? Health care changes and higher co-pays are making it harder to realize the same profits. If you have online bill pay, you are already using a secure payment gateway. You’re not actually keeping the numbers on file but utilizing a third-party system to process secure payments. A policy that details the terms of credit card use needs to be clearly stated in person and online.
To be able to continue providing the services and care that patients deserve, you have to work smarter. The obvious target is the amount of money spent on billing and collections. While processing credit cards incurs a fee, the administrative savings far outweigh any fees you might pay.
4. Educate patients. You might think this is an odd way to increase revenue, but your content marketing should be focused mainly on educating patients. Why? An educated patient is less likely to be anxious and more likely to follow a treatment plan, which, in turn, improves outcomes and leads, resulting in fewer complications, readmissions or cancelled procedures. Think about how much work it is to approve a procedure. Once it’s cancelled, that income to cover the admin costs is lost.
At the Troy campus of Michigan’s Beaumont Hospital, HealthLeadersmagazine reported in 2010, that surgery cancellation rates decreased from 4.8% to 1.5% by having patients view interactive education materials on their procedure. Years ago, when I maintained a website for an orthopedic practice, average time spent on the practice’s site was 26 minutes. Was it because it was the most beautiful? No. Patients liked the information. Analytics showed that they routinely downloaded the rehab PT protocols, read the educational posts on certain procedures and watched the animated videos of the procedures. What does this tell you? Patients want and appreciate information related to their health, and providing it builds trust in your facility.
You have a website. You have electronic medical records. Now’s the time to put them to use to improve profits and revenue. Side effects include more booked appointments, more trust, better outcomes and reduced administrative costs. Now who doesn’t want that?
This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of the Marketing Health Services e-newsletter.
Author Bio: Anne Moss Rogers, a former copywriter with 14 years of health care marketing experience, is cofounder and creative director of Impression Marketing. You can find Anne Moss @ImpressionM on twitter and Impression-Marketing.com.