By Christian Coburn, Director, ClearBalance Patient Experience Center
When it comes to healthcare, consumers want and expect to be informed of options to pay their out-of-pocket costs. According to the ClearBalance® 2018 Healthcare Consumerism study, consumer loyalty is influenced by how early and how often you communicate with patients about their estimated out-of-pocket costs, their payment options, and the experience they have while repaying their cost of care.
That’s why our Patient Experience Center team is committed to providing excellent customer service after a patient encounter. We know that your revenue cycle team has become the brand ambassador for your health system. At ClearBalance, we view ourselves as the extension of your team, interacting with patients during their financial journey. Understanding patients’ concerns and expectations about repayment of their medical account is essential. Ironically, even though they expect options, patients may be suspicious of offers to help. Not unlike your financial counselors, we often reassure prospective and new account holders by answering questions such as: What if I can’t make the payments? How will this affect my credit?
Our team members are skilled professionals who build rapport through empathy and advocacy. They are focused solely on healthcare and understand the challenges patients face. And no two people are alike in their needs. For every individual who is self-sufficient and wants website or phone IVR convenience, there is another person who wants to speak to a customer service representative. The human connection involves active listening to hear and alleviate concerns. At the end of the day, these are people who want to repay their medical bills. As advocates, we strive to help them manage the bill repayment process. We also can help with solutions that may not be readily apparent on a website — human interaction makes a huge difference.
Customer service across industries relies increasingly on technology. Healthcare customer service is made more efficient with technology, too. However, it also requires a balance so we don’t lose the compassionate approach. A long-term payment program makes care affordable and encourages patients to receive care they may have otherwise postponed due to cost. We offer high-tech digital convenience with high-touch human interaction to enhance patients’ experience, earn their loyalty and provide that connection to your health system the next time the patient needs care.