Discover the best practices you can use to turn simple patient statements into powerful tools for your practice's financial performance.
As a healthcare provider, patients place their well-being into your hands and rely on your guidance throughout their entire care journey. A part of this journey is often overlooked: patient statements.
Often only seen as documents requesting payment for healthcare services, these represent a point where financial responsibility crosses with medical care. Optimizing these statements goes beyond standard billing procedures. By enhancing the clarity and effectiveness of these statements, providers streamline operational workflows within healthcare systems, strengthen efficiency, and facilitate better patient-provider relationships.
The start of 2024 is the perfect time to review your previous approach to patient statements. This year offers a new opportunity for healthcare providers to embrace five key best practices when optimizing them—simplicity in communication, transparent charge breakdowns, accessible payment options, timely deliveries, and personalized engagement.
By following these best practices, leaning on the latest technological solutions, and implementing proven techniques, providers can turn simple patient statements into powerful tools for patient engagement and financial performance.
Understanding the Role of Patient Statements
When discussing the role of patient statements, there isn't just one function that stands out the most. These statements serve several important functions in the revenue cycle. They itemize charges to explain billing details for services provided. Statements also track payments made and specify the remaining balance owed. They also provide payment information and instructions to help patients resolve their balances.
Statements that are well-designed do a better job of enhancing patient financial care and engagement. Clear, customized statements improve transparency and help patients manage healthcare expenses. Optimized statements also minimize calls to patient financial services with basic billing questions.
For healthcare providers, accurate patient statements help generate clean claims by accurately reflecting service charges, and this can help reduce the number of claim denials and appeals. With optimized patient statements, healthcare providers can accelerate the billing and collections process while lowering administrative costs at the same time.
Best Practice #1: Clarity and Simplicity
When you think about the true essence of effective patient statements, what typically comes to mind? We believe the essence of effective patient statements lies in clarity and simplicity. To ensure accessibility to a diverse audience, use language that is understandable to all patients, irrespective of their medical expertise.
- Simplify complicated medical wording for better patient understanding.
- Use clear headings and bullet points to improve readability.
- Customize statements to fit various patient literacy levels and needs.
Patients appreciate straightforward communication. By presenting information in easily digestible formats, providers can ensure patients understand their healthcare expenses without confusion. Using layman's terms and avoiding complex legal or technical terms helps patients understand their billing responsibilities. Clear patient statements also contribute to better financial care for patients by making healthcare charges easy to understand.
Best Practice #2: Detailed and Accurate Breakdown of Charges
An itemized statement that breaks down charges in detail is important for transparency. The statement should provide an outline of billing codes, healthcare services provided, as well as related costs. Itemized billing gives patients clear insight into what they are paying for; it helps patients distinguish insurance-covered services from out-of-pocket expenses.
- List itemized charges in chronological order by date of service.
- Provide explanatory details of each healthcare service provided.
- Display billing codes and charge amounts for every item.
- Separate insurance covered costs versus patient responsibility.
Itemized statements also increase billing clarity for patients. Patients can validate that they were accurately charged for services received, improving billing accuracy and minimizing conflicts. Detailed statements also help patients budget for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Accurate itemization creates a transparent view of a patient's financial responsibility.
Best Practice #3: Multiple Payment Options and Easy Access
Convenient payment options must be included on patient statements. Different patients have different preferences when it comes to payment methods. Choices in payments should include online payments, automated phone payments, as well as payment by mail.
There should be clear instructions so patients will feel at ease when utilizing their chosen payment option. If using an online payment portal, consider including a QR code on the statement to quickly direct patients to the portal. Providing flexible options improves the likelihood of fast payment.
- Include the website URL, phone number, and mailing address for payments.
- Incorporate step-by-step instructions for online, phone, and mail-in payments.
- Consider adding a QR code to access an online payment portal.
- Offer multiple language options for statements to fulfill diverse patient needs.
Giving patients multiple payment avenues makes it easier to resolve balances. This increases on-time payments and improves revenue cycle efficiency. Offering assistance on payment methods also boosts collections by facilitating patient follow-through.
Best Practice #4: Timely and Consistent Delivery
Patient statements should always be delivered on time to accelerate collections. Consistent billing cycles contribute to better financial preparedness as well as help patients anticipate and manage their healthcare expenses. Quick delivery can also help reduce uncertainty on open balances.
- Send statements out within 5 business days after insurance claim adjudication.
- Establish a regular statement schedule every month.
- Make e-statements available immediately after claim processing.
- Set up automated email and text alerts on e-statements ready to view.
Timely statements shorten the billing cycle and reduce time spent in A/R, improving cash flow for your practice. Quick delivery provides patients with the information needed to quickly resolve open balances. Regular billing cadences let patients predict statement arrival to plan payments. Lastly, timely and consistent statements optimize collection speed and efficiency.
Best Practice #5: Personalization and Engagement
Personalized statements improve clarity and strengthen patient engagement. Statements should address patients by name and include service details relevant to their care. Personalization also raises perceived statement value, capturing a patient's attention right away.
- Address statements to individual patients by first and last name.
- Reference specific services, dates, and providers from appointments.
- Maintain a consistent statement style and tone for every patient.
- Add engaging color.
- Including custom messaging.
Adding personal touches to statements makes financial interactions more human. It also reminds patients of the services they received, re-engaging them in their own care. Personalized statements drive greater patient satisfaction and stronger financial relationships.
Legal Compliance and Privacy Considerations
Healthcare providers must make sure patient statements comply with legal and regulatory requirements. Patient statements contain sensitive protected health information (PHI)—this makes HIPAA privacy and security regulations crucial in statement production and delivery. Privacy should be guaranteed when handling PHI, statements should only be sent directly to individual patients.
Healthcare organizations must also safely store patient data according to HIPAA standards. Following industry rules and standards is necessary, even when using third-party statement vendors. Patient privacy must be preserved across production, printing, mailing, and electronic delivery. Failing to protect PHI exposes providers to major compliance risks and penalties.
Leveraging Technology for Optimization
Optimizing patient statements should be a top priority in revenue cycle management. Clear, accurate, and engaging statements positively impact cash flow while improving patient satisfaction. They reduce confusion and errors while accelerating collections.
At BillFlash, we offer customizable, HIPAA-compliant statements featuring convenient QR codes for fast online payments as part of our end-to-end billing, payment, and collections suite of services for medical practices. Mailed statements paired with our eBill Notices delivered via email and text ensure your patients never have to wait to pay their balance. BillFlash integrates with more than 150+ EMR systems to make implementation a breeze.