By Travis Schneider, founder and co-CEO, PatientPop.
Running an independent healthcare practice isn’t easy, and few practices have the resources or bandwidth to chase down late payments. While most patients want to pay their bills on time, it’s clear that many don’t – which leads to an unhealthy revenue cycle that can threaten a practice’s success and/or growth potential.
A 2019 report indicates that 22 percent of physician offices said that 10 percent or more of all patient accounts go to bad debt, which can take months or even years to recover.
For those practices that have trouble collecting timely patients, taking a closer look at the organization’s billing strategy can often reveal several opportunities to get paid faster. By evaluating current practices and asking the right questions, practices can make important changes that can improve the long-term financial health and success of their practice. If your practice is struggling to collect timely patient payments, here are the top three questions to consider:
How Does Your Healthcare Practice Handle Invoicing?
Postal mail is a nearly obsolete means of collecting payment. Thus, practices that use paper invoices sent via the U.S. postal service are less likely to receive timely payments. From delivery delays to misplaced bills or stamps, there are simply too many ways a well-meaning patient can get derailed when trying to make a payment. That’s why digital invoicing and online bill payments are the wave of the future – and savvy practices know, it not only improves revenue cycle metrics but can also enhance the patient experience.
The Patient Pop’s Patient Perspective Survey for 2021 reveals that more than 50 percent of patients prefer a digital experience when it comes to paying their bills. Digital, transparent invoicing and billing can support a healthcare practice’s patient retention strategy too.
According to the same survey, more than a third of patients (36.4 percent) have left a healthcare provider in the last two years — and many cited issues with costs or billing as a primary reason for making the switch. Acceptance of digital payments makes it fast and easy for patients to make their payments.
By Travis Schneider, co-founder & co-CEO, PatientPop.
Developing a top-tier practice requires doctors to be more than great practitioners. If you do not have a loyal patient base and a positive reputation, you will only be facing an uphill battle in your path to success.
Your ability to attract and retain patients will depend on how well you and your staff understand your patients’ needs, especially with patients having more choices for healthcare than they ever have. Healthcare practices may feel the same pressures that brick-and-mortar retailers face now. Look no further than Walmart’s Health Center Program and Amazon Care to see what the future portends.
To gain attention and stay competitive, you will need to position your practice as a top-of-mind option for prospective patients. At PatientPop, we regularly survey patients to identify what they care about most concerning their healthcare experiences. Our 2021 Patient Perspective Survey results underscore the obvious: All private practices must consider patient feedback and nurture patient relationships to attain meaningful and consistent growth.
Fortunately, the blueprint for achieving this is straightforward. With the right technology and workflows in place, you can respond to patient feedback and deliver personalized patient experiences in a way that sets your practice up for success.
Cover Website Fundamentals and Claim Your Online Profiles
Today’s patients will turn to the Internet first when researching a physician’s capabilities and reputation. Our survey found that 74.5% of patients have done just this while looking for care or selecting a primary care physician or specialist. Therefore, your practice needs to have the proper online marketing fundamentals to capitalize on this trend. This process starts with tailoring your website and marketing channels to satisfy your ideal patients’ needs.
First, refine and optimize your website to ensure it is user-friendly and mobile-ready. To see where your website currently stands and uncover other improvement opportunities, PatientPop has created a “competitive scanner” that any practice can use to determine their online performance in their market, compared to others in their specialty. Within moments, the scanner offers a closer look at your Google rank, online reputation, overall web presence, as well as your website’s speed, searchability, and more. You can use your report as inspiration to make changes to improve your digital footprint and searchability.
Once you are comfortable with your website’s appearance and performance, optimizing your site to engage with prospective patients using Google is essential. The search engine giant currently owns an 88% market share of the online search sector, and we have found that it remains the search engine of choice for patients seeking new providers.
By Jared Jost, vice president of marketing, PatientPop.
Of all the changes we’ve seen in the last century, the digital revolution has an excellent claim on being the most profound. As businesses of every stripe discover just what can be done within the rapidly evolving digital world, ongoing changes continue to shake up the landscape. This affects and benefits medical practices just like any other company or business, and several significant points have emerged that best illustrate how medical practices can take advantage of the changes that have given patients increased access and decision-making power.
1. Acknowledge this is the current world of patient demand
It would be easy for physicians to ignore the details and intricacies of the digital landscape, simply because they have a full schedule and a loyal patient base. Why change? Because patients are expecting digital access, and healthcare providers’ opportunities for acquisition and retention exist online.
A 2019 PatientPop survey found that three out of four people have gone online to find out about a doctor, a dentist, or care. Fifty-seven percent of patients do this with some level of regularity. Being present and available online is simply a matter of going where the patients are.
2. Attract patients the way any business attracts customers
As practice owners will tell you, a healthcare
practice is a healthcare business. Your patients are your customers, and
potential patients in your market are looking for you or your services online.
If you’re not easily found, your business could get lost.
That’s why having a strong web presence is crucial to your success. Not only
does it position your practice to be found more readily online, but it also
delivers a great first impression for patients unfamiliar with your practice.
What are the best steps to get started?
Claim and optimize your
professional profile listings on websites that patients are most likely to
visit. Make sure your information is clear and updated, starting with Google,
Facebook, Yelp, and WebMD. Then move onto other business sites, especially
those that cater to your local market.
Modify and improve your presence. Once you’ve updated all your online profiles (at minimum, get your “NAP” right — name, address, phone number), get more detailed. Include your specialty, photos of your practice and staff, and details about the care services you deliver.
Consider expanding social media. Your Facebook page and presence is essential for local business, but if you have the resources to go further, give it a try. Maybe Instagram. Twitter. YouTube. Think about using video, not just across social media channels, but on your own website. Make your content informative, and show prospective patients that you and your practice are welcoming and deliver top-notch care.
3. Simplify scheduling for patients and staff
One thing that kills online shopping is an
overly complex cart. If it’s tough to get the customer to conclude the sale,
that can mean lost revenue — and a lost customer. In online retail,
this is called “cart abandonment.” Similarly, if you don’t make it easy for an
interested website visitor to make an appointment with your practice, you lose
the opportunity at a new patient.
To encourage that appointment, feature online
scheduling on your own website and across any third-party websites that offer
it. In ideal situations, requests can integrate directly into your EHR’s
scheduling system, per your rules and parameters.
Additionally, set up your mobile presence to allow click-to-call
functions, so that mobile users can call you directly with one click. This
makes for a convenient process and helps you better “convert” website
visitors—mobile or otherwise—into patients.
4. Pay close attention to online reviews, both positive and negative
The 2019 PatientPop survey previously
referenced noted that when patients decide on a healthcare provider, patient
reviews are their most influential online source. Online reviews are one of
your greatest tools in drawing in new potential patients.
Make sure you monitor reviews across the web and when you find negative
reviews—and they do happen to everyone—be ready to respond promptly and
concisely. Tell any dissatisfied patient that you appreciate their feedback,
want to address their concerns, and can speak with them directly to remedy the
situation. You’ll show that patient, and any others reading the interaction,
that you’re the kind of doctor who listens and responds to your patients.
5. Keep it simple
It can be tempting to quickly add new software
or service to meet an immediate need or tackle a business problem. But that
often requires adding more along the way —
to cover website management, SEO, online reputation management, blog
development — burdening your practice with
multiple tools and extra costs. Instead, look for an all-in-one offering that
can connect all the points of your web presence and online reputation in one
practice growth solution. You’ll get unified
insight into how well your efforts are performing, and a single point of contact
for your ongoing needs.
As the digital age continues to produce new
and exciting developments, making these fit into your current operations will
help produce the best chances at success going forward.