Before smartphones, life had forced boundaries. An email was just accessed from a computer, only friends and family knew your cell phone number, and landline phones were the way you reached others. And, when a business needed to contact you, they sent a letter or called your home phone number.
That all changed in 2007 when the iPhone hit the market. Now, life is much more flexible.
Many people have given up landline phones and use cell phones for everything. You can check work and personal email accounts, scroll through social media, make purchases, watch movies, read books, find a date, pay bills from your phone.
It’s not surprising that the average American spends 5.4 hours a day on their smartphones.
Does this mean your organization should make all billing communications digital? Probably not. Here, we’ll discuss digital billing and how you can decide the best way to contact patients.
Billing Communication Considerations
Even if people use their phones for multiple purposes, four things factor into deciding if you should send bills by email or text messages.
- Not everyone has reliable internet service.
- Depending upon demographics and other factors, some people may be more tech-savvy than others.
- Not everyone checks their personal email account frequently.
- Perhaps most importantly, some people simply prefer getting bills the old-fashioned way; in the mail.
In fact, one study found that 74 percent of respondents prefer paper for bills. One of the respondents to this study said the benefit of getting bills by mail is that they are, ”easier to stack, organize and utilize in the bill-paying process each month; cannot possibly keep track of all the personal emails I get daily.”
Does this mean you should make all your billing communications on paper? Again, the answer is probably not.
Understanding Patient Preferences
Given that there are now so many ways to communicate, the best result comes from sending your bill in the channel—email, regular mail, phone call—that a person prefers. As a hospital, you can learn a patient’s preference by asking the right questions and storing that data for future use.
Every hospital has data on which patients opt-in for email messages for scheduling appointments and receiving test results. You should also know which patients use your self-service portal. That gives you a starting point to determine if a person agrees to receive information from their healthcare provider electronically.
Use these insights to decide if you want to communicate with patients digitally.
Give Patients Payment Options
Remember, just because a patient likes to schedule their appointments online, doesn’t necessarily mean they want to receive bills that way. (Look back to the study above where people said they want paper bills.)
The best plan is to give the patient options and make it easy to find all those options on the bill. This empowers the patient to decide which way they want to pay. And, it can give the patient much-needed flexibility. For instance, someone who usually pays by check might decide to pay online if they don’t have any stamps.
Our First Party Accounts Receivable Management service uses several techniques to help you obtain payments from patients. We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built with our clients and would love to explain all of the ways we can improve your revenue cycle. Please contact us and learn how we can help.