Success Speaks: UC San Diego Health Transforms Bill Payments to Improve Patient Satisfaction
Primum non nocere, “first, do no harm,” is a Latin maxim that serves as a fundamental principle of the medical community. Essentially, the phrase states that in some cases, it may be better to do nothing than to intervene. For UC San Diego Health, however, intervention was necessary to transform their billing and deliver an improved payments experience for their patients.
I recently took part in a Becker’s Hostpital Review webinar, alongside Terri Meier, System Director – Patient Revenue Cycle for UC San Diego Health, and Mark Archer, Co-founder of Noggintechs. We discussed the various strategies and technologies that can be employed to raise patient financial satisfaction.
UC San Diego Health’s Challenge
When Meier first came to UC San Diego Health, the biggest issue in billing was quite obvious to her. “Billing was handled by two separate departments; one for hospital and one for professional services,” she said. “Our patients were receiving two payment statements, had to set up two payment plans and had to call two customer service departments regarding bills.”
This led to an inefficient system where patients received different answers depending upon whom they called.
And speaking of calls, Meier pointed out that their patient advocacy department, which handles concerns and issues of patients, was receiving an increasing number of complaints specifically about the billing experience. Not only was billing responsible for poor patient experience in some cases, it also led to internal inefficiencies that hindered performance.
To add to all of this, UC San Diego Health had competition (literally) across the street. If they couldn’t deliver a satisfying payments experience, they risked losing patients to competitors.
“Improving the patient experience was a priority,” explained Meier. “The billing component does have a great impact. Even if the clinical care is good, the last thing that patients remember is getting that bill, and the struggle they had in paying that bill at times.”
With this in mind, it was decided that the revenue department would be restructured under one director, creating a chance to align the entire department. The first step was to hire an executive director to lead the team, and according to Meier, the candidate they ultimately hired had noticed in their research that people loved the care they received, but not the billing.
Since leadership was keenly aware of the situation, it was easy to create a business case for transformation.
Solutions to Satisfy
Meier and her team were looking to create unity within the revenue department. They implemented Epic Single Billing Office, which provided Meier a chance to look at the role of the customer service reps and the organizational structure as a whole. This led to the hiring of more billing and collection experts, who could deliver insightful payment answers for patients.
Meier’s team also unified policies and procedures to ensure the entire team was working from the same foundation. They analyzed patients’ reasons for calling and developed response guides so that patients received consistent answers, regardless of with whom they ultimately spoke. “Those patients who do end up calling in, having the right person on the other end of the phone who can answer that phone call, is really the turning point for us.”
A big priority was the simplification of the patient statement. The team put a lot of time into developing a much clearer statement, which was created with the help of patient advocacy groups. This new statement is very clean and works towards a single goal – to elicit a specific payment from the patient.
The team also optimized their interactive voice response (IVR) system to deliver a best-in-class experience for patients who still need to call. This IVR system takes advantage of a consumer touchpoint that is not often a priority but can yield big dividends.
Finally, the team focused on analytics-driven segmentation. This segmentation allows them to deliver the right message, using the right channel, at the right time. It also helps to create a certain level of personalization, giving patients the feeling of being treated as individuals rather than numbers on a ledger.
Better Service through Technology
Mark Archer, Co-founder of Noggintechs, furthered the discussion with one declarative statement –traditional tactics are expensive and becoming less effective. The net result is that collection rates go down, costs go up and patient satisfaction nosedives.
So, what’s the answer? As Archer says, “A lot of surveys are telling us that by 2020, individuals will manage about 85 percent of their relationship with an enterprise online.”
With mobile phone ownership and internet usage climbing across all demographics, Archer says these are obvious avenues on which to focus. Given the wealth of analytics, technology and the fact that 65 percent of patients say they would consider switching providers for a better payments experience, the timing is right for medical providers to align their collection practices to patient preferences.
One of the biggest advances in payments that providers should take advantage of is real-time payments. According to Lipis Advisors, real-time payments in healthcare will grow at more than 100 percent CAGR from 2018-2022. We’ve made the case for real-time payments before, but it bears repeating: Patients' ability to pay in real time keeps their accounts balanced and ensures they won’t suffer bounced checks or overdraft fees. There’s also the added bonus of delivering refunds or reimbursements to members in real time, which will always be a crowd pleaser.
Archer’s final piece of advice is that providers must get ahead of the customer expectation curve and redefine themselves. If done well, patients will give you more cash at a lower cost.
UC San Diego Health Builds Payments Success
The benefits of this transformation have been immediate, both internally and externally.
For employees, not only were they a part of the implementation process, but they are now more involved in hiring decisions. Meier’s team comes to a mutual decision when bringing on new teammates, ensuring that all new hires adhere to the mission of delivering a better payments experience.
For patients, Meier credits them with helping to create this new system. “A lot of it the patients built for us, with their dissatisfaction of the billing process.” Now, patients receive a simplified bill and consistent answers in the instances when they do call or reach out. They also received more personalized communications and more payment channels. It is an optimized experience for all patients.
Meier says the plan for now is to continue to expand their omni-channel customer support and to finish a double upgrade of their Epic solution to enable more mobile capabilities.
With 2019 quickly approaching, the time is now to begin crafting your 2019 budgeting and strategy for optimizing bill payments and driving patient financial satisfaction. Contact us to schedule a consultation with an ACI payments expert who can help you expand your offerings.
To learn more, view the on-demand webinar.
Related Blog Posts
SCA: How PSPs Can Help Merchants Stay One Step Ahead
The main objective of PSD2’s Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is to protect customers and reduce fraud by introducing new measures that ensure that customer-initiated transactions are being made by the genuine cardholder.
The EMV Deadline Has Been Extended for U.S. Fuel Merchants – Now What?
U.S. fuel stations were originally supposed to be EMV-compliant by October 2017, but due to complications and costs at the time, the deadline for EMV at the pump was extended for three years – and it has now been pushed out further to April 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Merchant Fraud in the Age of COVID-19: We Need to Prepare Ourselves for a “Tidal Wave” of Attacks
With millions of consumers around the world self-quarantining at home, online shopping for goods, services and entertainment has become the new normal for many. A recent analysis of our own data has shown that average transaction volumes in the retail sector in March rose 74 percent compared to the same period last year.
Global Fraud Landscape Evolving Quicker Than Ever – What Banks Need to Know
In the fraud prevention and cybercrime world, we often talk about fraudsters as the ultimate opportunists – looking for any weakness in a system that can be exploited. In recent years, as technological systems have advanced, fraudsters have increasingly turned to ”social engineering” to achieve their goals. Basically, hacking the person rather than hacking the system, as humans become the weakest link in the chain.
Predicciones de fraude para el 2020: Qué esperar con la rápida evolución del panorama de pagos en América Latina
La industria de pagos en América Latina está experimentando diversos cambios en varios segmentos a medida que la población de la región está cada vez más bancarizada y comienza a usar pagos electrónicos. Aunque el efectivo sigue siendo la forma de pago dominante, los gobiernos han impulsado los pagos electrónicos a través de la regulación. Esto ha asegurado que la aceptación y el crecimiento del pago con tarjeta hayan aumentado constantemente, han aparecido bancos digitales en diferentes países y el comercio electrónico ha aumentado significativamente.
Previsões para fraudes em 2020: O que esperar com o cenário de pagamentos em rápida evolução na América Latina
As violações de dados que envolvem dados de pagamento dobraram no ano passado por várias razões - falta de inovação em segurança, prioridades corporativas equivocadas e fraquezas nos portais de desenvolvedores, para citar alguns.
9 Holiday Preparedness Tips to Stay Protected from Fraud in 2019
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season often makes it difficult to prioritize consumer safety, especially when it comes to eCommerce and mobile devices. But with the growing threat of identity theft and other security concerns, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of consumer protection. After all, brand reputation and trust can take years to build, but all can be lost in a matter of minutes.
How to Survive Black Friday and Cyber Monday… and Provide a Great Consumer Experience
As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, shoppers and merchants alike await amazing deals and a welcome boost in sales, respectively. I took a moment to speak with two of ACI’s merchant payments and fraud experts, Andrew Marshman (merchant payments lead, Europe) and Erika Dietrich (VP, Global Fraud Prevention Risk Services) about what merchants need to know as they head forth into one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year.
Strong Customer Authentication in Australia: Reducing CNP Fraud and Streamlining eCommerce Payments
Minimizing fraud without harming the customer experience can be done – using the right tools
In 2017-18, card-not-present (CNP) fraud cost Australian eCommerce AUD $478 million and accounted for some 85 percent of all fraud on Australian-issued cards1. In 2016, CNP fraud in Europe represented 70% of all card fraud2. Seriously uncomfortable numbers.
2020 Fraud Predictions: What to Expect Across the Globe as Cybercrime Evolves
Our payment experts take stock of the trends that shaped 2019 and make their predictions for where they see the industry heading in 2020.
I sat down with our own fraud experts, Marc Trepanier, principal fraud consultant for North America, and Giselle Lindley, principal fraud consultant for APAC, to get their thoughts on what we can expect in the year ahead around payments fraud.