While more cash and more satisfied patients is a good start, it is not the end. Ultimately, we need to connect the back-end, post-sale processes to the front-end, new-sales effort. We can use our business office efforts to drive new revenue and clinical service. It is often predictable which customers are likely to have a follow on purchase (hospital visit). Leverage this insight in resolving the first bill to influence the next visit and make it more valuable to the hospital and pleasing to the patient. For the emerging Accountable Care Organization, this closed loop thinking will be a differentiator for productive consumer relationships.
The ability to capitalize on this opportunity is rapidly increasing with new technology and products. Vendors are specializing in consumer financing solutions or letter programs which can be targeted to their best candidates, and away from less viable prospects. Broadcast messages, a routine feature on current dialer systems, allow for very low cost, highly targeted customer activation, with messages such as "please call to speak to a representative" or "we recommend you go online to resolve" or "this bill is getting late and we are concerned you may have forgotten."
Online kiosks present another emerging platform to improve cash recovery, reduce transaction costs for customers and the business office, and influence future purchases. When rolling out this platform, it is critical that healthcare executives think about what expectations they want to set with their customers today so that it opens up possibilities tomorrow. It is always harder to change something that is prevalent. Why not offer free parking for the next visit to customers who resolve bills through online solutions? This is conceptually the same principle as airlines charging no service fee when a ticket is booked online but $25 when booked via the phone with a travel representative. Airlines want capable people to book simple trips online; hospitals want some accounts to manage themselves online.
By combining the various media together—letters, broadcast messages, online platforms and customer service representatives—a business office can deliver breakthrough cash performance as well as contribute to building loyalty among critical segments of customers. After all, why spend all the time making customers feel good around the clinical event only to destroy that goodwill with clumsy and simplistic business office efforts?
Steve Levin is CEO and co-founder of Connance in Waltham, MA. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.