Patient Financial Engagement Technology Going Beyond Collections

October 14, 2021  by  Allzone MS   303


A new KLAS report shows that patient financial engagement technology should do more than process payments so providers can boost revenue while improving the patient experience.

Early adopters of the technology report that solutions implemented primarily to process payments are “outdated and inaccurate,” resulting in low satisfaction among both patients and providers, revealed the report titled Pulse Check: Patient Financial Engagement 2021.

Provider organizations prefer patient financial engagement technology with a wide range of functionality.

“Interest in patient financial engagement (PFE) solutions is high as provider organizations seek to improve their revenue cycle and the patient financial experience,” KLAS said in the report.

Elevating patient experience while boosting provider organization revenue is a rare combination, KLAS noted. However, insights from a small sample of financial leaders at organizations that have adopted PFE solutions showed that it is happening with current technology options.

Improving the patient financial experience is the main reason the early adopters invested in the technology, with 85 percent citing it as the problem the solution was meant to solve at their organization. Meanwhile, only about a third (31 percent) of early adopters cited improved accounts receivable (A/R) and just 15 percent said payment accuracy.

With patient financial experience in mind, nearly all early adopters (92 percent) have invested in a unified patient payment portal. And they said it has been beneficial.

“This portal can simplify the patient payment process, consolidate statements into a single location, and offer payment plans to patients, thereby improving patients’ ability to engage and take ownership of their healthcare bills,” KLAS explained.

Other functionalities early adopters have implemented include statements (46 percent), text-to-pay (38 percent), text message reminders (23 percent), and interactive voice response (15 percent). Few early adopters have turned on call center capabilities, customized messaging, payment plans, point-of-service payments, and propensity to pay functionalities.

The unified patient portal and other patient financial engagement technologies have already achieved key outcomes, delivering near-immediate return on investments (ROIs), KLAS reported.

About 64 percent of early adopters reported increased collections, while 55 percent saw reduced cost and 27 percent saw reduced A/R days. Additionally, 18 percent said patient satisfaction has increased following implement.

All but one financial leader reported realizing ROI within the first year of implementation, with 46 percent of all respondents saying ROI was immediate, KLAS added.

These results were independent of the patient financial engagement technology adopted by the provider organizations. However, KLAS found that all of the early adopters are using solutions from third-party vendors, while none have tapped their EMR or EHR system to add patient financial engagement functionalities.

The EHR system is unlikely to be the technology to crack the patient financial experience and patient revenue problem, financial leaders said. Most early adopters said they don’t think their vendor would provide a comparable patient financial engagement solution and if they did, only a quarter of financial leaders would switch on the functionalities.

Early adopters are deeply loyal to their patient financial engagement vendors, KLAS found. Financial leaders value the client-vendor relationship they currently have and the vendor’s focus on improving the patient financial experience. Meanwhile, some leaders felt that EHR vendors would not be able to keep up with the third-party companies.

Third-party vendors used by early adopters in the report included Patientco, RevSpring, Cedar, Flywire (Simplee), and VisitPay.

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