How Better Patient Communication Leads to a Better Revenue Cycle

January 27, 2022 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Revenue Cycle Management, Practice Management, Medical Billing Company

Every long-lasting relationship is built upon a solid foundation of communication; your medical practice’s relationship with your patients is no different! Patient communication is a tremendous component of your medical practice’s operations, starting with when a patient calls to schedule an appointment and leading up to collecting payment when all is said and done. This latter part gets tricky for many practices and certainly for many patients. 

For example, there’s often confusion or miscommunication regarding what is owed by the insurance company and what is left for the patient to cover. Your medical practice’s staff has numerous points of contact with the patient over the course of their relationship with your office; this presents numerous opportunities for clarification and the chance to answer any questions the patient might have! 

Taking these moments to engage in conversation and ensure the patient understands their responsibility can lead to an improved revenue cycle and overall rapport between patient and provider.

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The Connection Between Patient Communication and Patient Payment

If you’re looking for ways to improve your revenue cycle management process and general financial flow at your medical practice, then improving patient communication is a great place to start.

Demystifying the medical billing and insurance payment process is one way that you and your staff can directly impact the patient experience. If you handle your billing in-house, then you know how confusing or frustrating the claims submission process can be or how tricky the medical coding component can be. Now imagine that workload from the uninformed patient’s perspective; it’s practically another language! This means that your patients are likely to be simply unaware of how the medical billing process works; your staff can help this by giving patients a heads-up regarding the approximate amount they’ll owe for their care. Having this conversation gives the patient an opportunity to ask questions or simply acknowledge that they’ll receive a bill for an estimated amount, which makes them less likely to just ignore their medical bills out of confusion.

Your medical practice can also help mitigate lack of patient awareness by establishing a comprehensive—yet easy to comprehend—financial policy that explains the responsibilities of both sides: the patient and the medical practice. Determining this policy and adequately training staff to handle such conversations is a great method to improve patient communication and patient engagement.

Improving patient communication helps your revenue cycle from a legal perspective, too. For example, communication problems were cited as a contributing factor in 30% of medical malpractice claims filed between 2009 and 2013. Making a point of facilitating clear communication can result in faster payment and help avoid serious situations like medical malpractice cases.

patient communication is essential for your medical practice

4 Tips for Better Patient Communication and Improved Revenue Cycle

If you’re not straightforward with patients about payment, then the lack of conversation will only make your revenue challenges harder in the years to come. Consider these tips for better communication that can lead to an improved revenue cycle for your practice and a better relationship with your patients:

Establish Friendly Communication Channels

Once a patient steps out of your medical practice, it’s nearly impossible to know if they’re following their treatment plan, if they’re experiencing any improvements or developing new symptoms, etc. It’s just as challenging to get ahold of them regarding any financial responsibility, too! To encourage communication between your practice and your patients, establish friendly communication channels like online patient portals, secure mobile apps, or even text messaging platforms. 

Ask About Ability 

Can the patient in front of you afford the treatment you’re about to deliver? Leaving the payment concerns for later is a recipe for losing out on what you’re owed. But initiating the conversation is actually pretty easy: So long as your team (or medical billing service) is conducting eligibility checks in an automated way, co-payment and other cost information can easily be integrated into appointment reminder calls, emails, or text messages. And in the exam room, doctors can open up a dialogue about expenses as they select a course of treatment.

Remind Them

Since patients find bill payments so easy to forget, practices can—and should—make them a lot easier to remember. In addition to reminding patients of their financial responsibilities up front, before they come in, text reminders and robo-calls can be used to notify patients that payments are past due.

Gather Feedback Whenever Possible

One significant method of enhancing patient communication—and the overall patient experience at your medical practice—is to utilize patient satisfaction surveys. These surveys can prove incredibly valuable as a means of communication for your patients and can serve as an important perspective on your medical practice’s operations. Surveys give patients the opportunity to rate various components of your practice and illustrate points of improvement across their whole experience. Plus, incorporating patient feedback demonstrates that your practice makes it a point to listen to your patients, which further instills trust in your patients and can lead to recommendations.

Focus on Patient Communication While Leaving the Medical Billing to a Trusted Partner

The point of patient communication is to streamline and facilitate overall patient care and engagement. Managing clear communication regarding financial obligations can help get your practice paid faster, too! If your staff is overwhelmed with other important components of your revenue cycle, like medical billing and coding, then consider partnering with a medical billing firm to handle that!

By handing the billing and coding process over to a trusted medical billing partner, your practice can focus its efforts on making the healthcare experience as seamless as possible for your patients. NCG Medical has been helping practices implement technology solutions to improve their revenue cycle management for over 40 years. Our team of certified billing and coding experts can help your practice boost its clean claims and insurance reimbursements while helping you implement the best practices associated with patient engagement. 

To learn more about our medical billing services, contact our team today!

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