Patient Financial Services: Effects on the Patient Experience

Sep 23, 2022
Article Background

Your patients’ financial experience is a critical part of their overall experience.

Patient financial services (PFS) encompasses the financial processes from patient intake to final payment. Today, patients are more involved with their entire healthcare journey, including the financial process. A patient’s overall health experience can be diminished if they don’t have a satisfying financial experience.

What Are Patient Financial Services?

As the name suggests, patient financial services represent support for a patient’s financial journey from admission to treatment, discharge, and final payment of medical bills. These services include:

  • Preauthorization
  • Medical coding and billing
  • Dispute resolution
  • Payer reimbursement

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on improving the patient clinical experience and overall satisfaction, but often those efforts don’t consider a patient’s financial experience. To promote a positive patient experience, healthcare teams should engage the patient in PFS.

Why Is Patient Engagement In PFS Important?

A patient’s financial experience affects their overall healthcare experience. It can turn an otherwise good clinical experience sour and affect the patient’s feelings about the provider, medical facility, and entire health system. As healthcare costs continue to rise and patients shoulder more out-of-pocket expenses, a poor financial experience can lead a patient to search for a new provider or facility.

A good financial experience, on the other hand, drives patient loyalty. It affects a physician’s reputation and referrals, which is important in today’s consumer-driven healthcare environment. It also affects how, when, and if a patient pays their medical bills. Engaging with patients throughout their PFS experience means they will have no expensive surprises that could alter their perception of their healthcare experience or ability to pay.

patient giving card to receptionist

How Can You Better Engage Patients Financially?

One of the secrets to good patient engagement is to customize your approach to the individual. Every patient is different, with varying beliefs, preferences, and expectations. For example, some patients prefer in-person financial interactions, whereas some find face-to-face billing conversations awkward and would prefer phone calls or online communications. Determine a patient’s preferred contact methods and adjust the approach to match. This simple adjustment could pay dividends in patient satisfaction and payment remittance. A patient portal can often support these interactions as well, offering a variety of communication options and helpful information.

Be sure to involve patients in their healthcare options. Patients are more willing to pay for services when the provider is open and transparent about the costs of various treatments. Often, asking the patient for payment before or at the time of treatment is better than presenting them with an unexpectedly high bill weeks later and then aggressively pursuing payment.

Also, offer flexible payment options. Payment plans offering manageable installments can be the difference between getting payment in full and writing off an unpaid charge. Another convenient option is to keep a credit card on file so the charge is automatically taken care of at the time of service.

A patient’s financial experience is a crucial component of their overall health experience. If you provide your patients with a positive financial experience through PFS, they will feel better supported with a greater understanding of their financial options, and your team will benefit from increased payment fulfillment and patient loyalty.

Learn more about PFS and the many ways it can support a better patient experience.