How to Increase Your Patient's Financial Literacy & Improve the Collections Process
As the patient payment landscape changes, healthcare consumers are finding themselves responsible for a larger percentage of their bills. Some are turning to alternative payment methods to close the gap, but these changes can still be difficult for consumers to understand. When people don’t understand their responsibilities and why these changes are happening, they might be resistant to pay.
By addressing financial literacy with your patients, you can help improve their experience and ensure that they understand their financial responsibility. This strategy, in turn, can have a positive impact on your payment collections process.
Improving Your Patients’ Financial Literacy
If you want to promote financial literacy at your healthcare organization, discuss billing with patients from the beginning rather than waiting until their bill is past due. Some hospitals do this by providing cost estimates for care.
While this strategy can improve patient experience and loyalty, it won’t necessarily solve all your patient payment concerns — especially if patients don’t feel empowered to take their finances into their own hands. For example, a recent Waystar survey found that only 21% of respondents said they had sought help from a hospital representative regarding their healthcare bill or considered doing so, while 79% did not seek help.
By individually educating your patients and discussing costs with them upfront, you can improve their feelings of understanding and control.
Being open about financials from the start empowers patients to continue the conversation. Most patients don’t contact their healthcare providers to discuss their bill once they receive it, and many don’t compare their healthcare costs with their insurance coverage. Have a conversation with your patients to encourage them to reach out with any questions and remind them it’s always worth a phone call if something seems off.
Insurance can be a particularly overwhelming topic for patients, especially as plans keep changing. Many patients can’t or choose not to keep up, and many are unaware of the differences between concepts like deductibles and premiums. If you can offer even basic guidance and education to your patients, you can make a big difference in their financial literacy.
Psychographic Segmentation Can Help You Communicate
People learn in different ways, and with a topic as complex and important as healthcare financial literacy, it’s best to tailor the information to each person. Psychographic segmentation uses a person’s attitudes, lifestyle and personality to understand how to communicate with them in a way that resonates most effectively.
Balance Seekers, for example, thrive when they are given choices and the ability to make their own decisions for their care. By providing them with options and information, you can give them a sense of control. When educating them about their financial responsibilities, give them information without telling them what to do.
Priority Jugglers have a lot going on in their lives and don’t have much time to spend on their own health. They’re more concerned with their families and making sure they get the care that they need. When explaining the financials to them, acknowledge the importance of their family and appeal to their sense of commitment.
Willful Endurers are only focused on the present. They’re not usually eager to change their habits, but you can build rapport easily by acknowledging the work they’ve already done toward understanding these financials. Provide them with a way to get a quick, easy win if possible, because they benefit from immediate results.
Direction Takers will listen to your recommendations without asking too many questions. They trust physicians and other healthcare providers to have their best interests at heart and share the right information. Be specific about your recommendations for their health financials and help them understand how to fit it into their daily lives.
Self Achievers, lastly, are ready to take action and do what’s best. They’re proactive, so they might already have some information about their health finances. The best way to connect with a Self Achiever is to work with them to set goals and progress points along the way. Create a step-by-step plan with them to set them up for financial success.
Psychographic segmentation can help you speak your patients’ language and empower them to take control of their healthcare — and their patient financial responsibility. In turn, you can educate them about healthcare costs and improve their financial literacy, thus simultaneously amplifying patient self-pay and improving the patient experience.
For more on how to leverage psychographic segmentation and digital engagement to accelerate patient payments, download our case study.