How to Boost Post-Discharge Revenue, Customer Service

Steve Levin, for HealthLeaders Media , October 8, 2010

With the future so clear, what if we thought about self-pay and the business office process differently? Is it possible to embrace the ideas of loyalty and consumer marketing in healthcare business offices? Is it possible to act like our clinicians and use data to inform our next action?  Will thinking differently create a better customer experience? In a word, yes.

Self-pay accounts are predictably diverse. It is predictable which accounts need help to resolve their bills. It is predictable which accounts will pay their bills from basic letters. It is predictable which accounts will both pay their bills and have repeat visits, effectively being customers with higher lifetime revenue potential. It is predictable which accounts will not be capable of paying their bill and will want to evade interaction.

Customer segments should be defined around the necessary experience needed for that customer to resolve their bill. A customer-centric business office tailors its customer contact efforts in each segment to meet the specific needs of those customers and the priorities of the hospital. For instance, for patients we know will pay based on basic letter efforts, we do not make early, or any, phone calls. Not only does this avoid the cost of the call but also the risk of a negative reaction to the intrusion. Similarly, segmenting customers can segregate the people who are more reluctant participants and deliver them a more frank message with ideas regarding proactive resolution.

With basic segmentation and specialized workflows, customer satisfaction will increase. Customer experiences improve simply by separating those who need early intervention from those who don't.

In addition, significantly more cash and less bad debt will emerge from the business office. In my experience, cash improvement of 20-30% is typical. These gains are achieved without new infrastructure, without more people, and without organizational disruption. It all starts with simply thinking about self-pay revenue as one would relationship or direct marketing.

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