How to Design a Billing Statement That Will Help You Retain More Patients
As the healthcare system shifts toward a more consumer-driven environment, providers must adjust to the many changes in patient care and medical practice management.
A patient-focused approach means designing a system that puts patients’ needs, preferences, and behaviors at the center of the healthcare experience.
A carefully designed user journey that delivers an outstanding patient experience is the key to attracting new patients and retaining existing ones.
Because patients are holding medical practices to the same standards as other consumer services, it’s important to ensure that every touchpoint meets their expectations. One common communication tool that often gets overlooked is the patient billing statement. Tugged at the end of the patient’s journey, it’s often treated as an afterthought.
However, if you want patients to be satisfied with their entire experience and return to your practice or facility, you can’t afford to overlook the statement and payment process.
A poorly designed and confusing billing statement not only decreases patient satisfaction but also makes it more difficult to collect unpaid balances.
Patients then call the billing department for clarification or put the bill aside, so you’ll have to spend more resources on sending out reminders or hiring a collection service.
If your billing statement still looks like it’s from the 1990’s, it’s time for an upgrade.
Essential Elements of a Patient-Friendly Medical Billing Statement
A patient-centric statement presents billing information in a way that helps patients understand the charges and give them easy ways to pay the bill, access additional information, or get assistance.
Here are some essential elements to consider when designing a patient-friendly billing statement:
Often times patients have to get care from different providers or departments within a facility. It’s a frustrating experience when they have to deal with multiple bills from different services, e.g., radiology bill, lab bill, and doctor’s bill.
An integrated statement shows all the charges in one place so patients can easily understand the breakdown of the charges and the total of the entire visit. The itemization of each service or treatment allows patients to easily recognize the providers, services, and costs involved.
A consolidated bill also helps patients make payments easier and faster while ensuring that they don’t overlook a payment just because a bill gets lost in the pile.
Patients often get frustrated by the use of jargon and complicated format in which billing information is presented.
You can improve the patient experience by using jargon-free language in your statement and include explanations of the terminologies in the FAQ section.
In addition, colors can be used to make connections between financial data and design elements can be used to highlight the next step so patients can take the necessary actions required.
Clutter-Free Statement Design
Your billing statement should be easy to understand by presenting only the information that patients need to understand their responsibilities.
You can provide a way for those who require additional details or access to historical data to get them online, e.g., by including a URL and/or QR code. Patients can then easily access additional information about their charges through a branded payment portal,
If you want patients to pay the bills promptly, you need to make it easy for them.
The balance and payment due date should be clearly displayed next to the list of payment methods with clear instructions on how to access the online payment portal or submit payment.
Besides the traditional option of sending a check with a payment coupon, patients should also be able to make payments by phone or online.
Another way to encourage patients to make prompt payment is to offer a payment plan option. You can include the information alongside the payment instructions so patients can get in touch with your office to make the necessary arrangements.
Many patients get confused by medical bills because they can’t associate a charge with an event, provider, or treatment.
To minimize the need for patients to call your billing department for clarification, you can add contextual information such as thumbnails of the providers or the facilities and a simple service description to connect the billing event to the patient’s experience.
One of the most frustrating parts of a patient’s experience is dealing with medical insurance, especially if the provider doesn’t offer assistance to help them navigate the system.
Adding a section about the patient’s insurance status can help deliver a better patient experience while positioning the provider as a helpful resource.
Marketing and Announcement Inserts
A well-designed billing statement also takes into account any added marketing materials or announcements that will enhance the communication between the provider and patients.
For example, you can include information about an “early out” solution and incentivize patients to take advantage of the offer or communicate upcoming changes about your practice to ensure a smooth transition and build trust with your patients.
Branded Visual Design
Many patients can’t tell one medical billing statement from another. Without a clear visual branding, providers are missing the opportunity to build trust and familiarity with patients through their communications.
A design that incorporates a colored logo and custom palette helps your billing statement stand out and make a positive impression to increase brand awareness and affinity.
Upgrade Your Billing Statement for a Better Patient Experience
A well-designed patient-friendly billing statement isn’t simply a “cosmetic” issue.
It impacts your patients’ experience and how they perceive your practice or facility, which in turn, can affect their decisions to return for future services and treatments.
It’s therefore important to make sure your billing statements are keeping up with the fast-evolving patient expectations.
Thankfully, you don’t have to figure it out from scratch.
Here at MailMyStatements, we have done the legwork for you by designing billing statement templates based on extensive research and best practices.
All you need to do is to customize our templates and we’ll take care of the rest for you.
See how we can help improve your patient experience and streamline your billing process here.
Hugh Sullivan is the CEO of MailMyStatements, an industry-leading healthcare billing, and payments company. He has over 25 years of experience as a seasoned healthcare executive, was the co-founder of ENS Health — a highly successful national healthcare electronic data interchange company, and has served in various leadership roles within Optum, a UnitedHealth Group company. Considered as an industry thought leader, Hugh is an expert in using health IT to improve healthcare information exchange, which can enhance the quality of care, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
You can follow Hugh on Twitter @hughdsullivan