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where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.

POSTS BY TAG | Patient

Patient making payment using smartphone


Finances and the revenue cycle can be a high source of stress for providers, who let’s be honest, would much rather focus on patient care. However, effectively managing a practice's revenue is crucial to actually being able to continue to provide that care. One of the most unpredictable phases of the revenue cycle is collecting patient responsibility, which often results from the high variance in payment methods as well as hesitation to pay due to a lack of understanding of insurance systems. Simply put, many patients don’t know what they owe and why.

Why Is Collecting Patient Payments So Hard?


According to the American Association of Family Physicians, only 14% of adults understand key components of their insurance plans. This confusion and uncertainty can often make it difficult to determine a patient’s financial responsibility at the time of a visit, leading to even more frustration when they get a bill in the mail months later that they don’t understand. Estimation tools and insurance cards can help ease this uncertainty or to point a practice in the right direction, but ultimately most patients end up in the dark when it comes to what they will owe in the end. 

Patients Want a Better Healthcare Payment Experience


Traditionally, many practices end up providing services for free, collecting a small insurance co-pay, or sometimes not even that, and then opting to bill the patient later, after collecting from insurance first. The problem is the process of settling with and collecting from insurance companies can take days, weeks, or even months and by that time patients are far less likely to pay for bills they receive long after services rendered. In fact, more than 60% of patients surveyed by InstaMed reported they would “consider switching providers for a better healthcare payment experience,” which includes upfront patient responsibility, eligibility, and the ability to pay with their preferred payment methods. 

Real Time Eligibility & Patient Responsibility Estimate Tools Help


With this in mind, it’s hard to believe less than 25% of physician practices have an eligibility and estimation tool in place to assist their practices in maximizing revenue, according to Healthcare Finance News.  By providing real-time patient responsibility estimates, providers can increase patient confidence and are more likely to collect the full amount they are owed for their services. Without an eligibility solution in place, practices could potentially be missing out on between 30-50% of their patient revenue. 

Adapting to The Next Generation of Patients


Speed and transparency make a huge difference when it comes to collecting patient payments. Giving your patients the tools to make the process as simple as possible is key to not only collecting but collecting quickly with high patient satisfaction. Many practices still rely on mailed statements and/or in-person payments, such as cash, check, or credit card, which can be a major hindrance, especially when it comes to younger generations. 

Gen Z, which are those born between 1995 and 2012, is expected to account for an estimated 61 million new employees in the global workforce in the next decade. Why is this important? Well, the majority of Gen Z have never lived without the internet, smartphones, and immediate access to information and products. With an influx of Gen Z patients, the expectation is that practices make it easy to receive and pay for care. If it’s not, they may seek care elsewhere. 

Make Paying Medical Bills Fast & Easy for Patients


It’s much easier to collect payments when the patient is standing in front of you, but even if they’re not, the quicker a practice requests payment, the more likely patients are to pay it. Recent trends in expected payment options have shown nearly 50% of patients would prefer to pay their medical bills using contactless or paperless payment options. Practices using paper statements introduce significant lag into their collection systems by relying on mail carriers and printing/packing services. Recent improvements in payment processors and the technology they offer have made it possible to send statements and payment requests in real-time to speed up collections and boost patient satisfaction and confidence. 

Everything Should Be in One Place


The last part of the equation is making sure everyone in the practice is on the same page regarding patients’ financial status. The fewer systems involved, the less room for error and inefficiency. From patient intake to collecting payments, it’s important to be able to do everything in one place without having to log into multiple systems to piece together information.

Find Out How pMD Medical Billing & RCM Services Can Help


If you are interested in learning more about pMD’s billing and revenue cycle management services, please contact us here or give us a call at 800-587-4989 x2. We’d love to hear from you!

 

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registry, billing services, telehealthsecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

Related Articles:
* Medical Billing & Payment System Improvements Boost Patient Satisfaction
* Reduce Claim Denials with Real-Time Eligibility

"Love without conversation is impossible." This quote by American philosopher, Mortimer Adler, embodies a fundamental pillar of pMD design - something we'll call "love injection." Ever since the beginning, building software that is as intuitive as it is useful has been a core component of pMD product development. My previous post highlights empathy as the first and most important step of our design process and this post will focus on the upsides of a love injection and how it plays a part in our empathic design process. Love injection is our design team's internal call-to-action whenever our users encounter a scenario that leaves them feeling lost and unloved. Learning how we used it to overcome our missteps in product design will hopefully encourage your health care design team to leverage even more conversations with customers in the future.

The Backstory


Back in the early days of pMD telehealth we had far fewer patients on the platform. Then COVID-19 spread, and everyone was sent home, told to stay there, and attend medical appointments remotely. In the span of a couple of weeks, we suddenly had over 36,000 new patients using pMD for video calls. The deluge of new patient users - many of whom had never used telehealth services before - increased the customer support volume to unexpected levels. Questions we may have previously seen a few times over the course of a week resurfaced several times an hour: "What do I need enabled on my phone to have a video call?", "When will the doctor call me?", "What do I do now?", "I have a question for my practice...", etc. 

Immediate steps were taken by our customer success team to create more patient-facing documentation, so our new patient users could feel comfortable using pMD. These updates drastically improved our team’s response to patients, but we knew more had to be done to reduce the reliance on documentation alone while maintaining scalability. This became the catalyst for a new round of updates from the design team to make the user experience as intuitive as possible. Prior to COVID-19, we had been focused on telehealth through the health care provider lens and now it was time to revisit telehealth strictly from the patient's perspective. 

A Solution


To design effectively for patients, we revisited our design thinking process and focused again on empathy and designing with love. I'm referring to the three "laws of love”:

1. Love starts with what you know - build familiarity into the design.
2. Love makes complicated choices simple - one choice means no wrong choice.
3. Love is spontaneous! - Make it fun; make it rewarding!

Instead of a traditional user research study, I embraced Adler's quote and joined the support team in fielding phone calls from patients. Effectively, I became tech support for several hours every day. Assisting the customer support team opened my eyes to critical areas for improvement, namely around the onboarding experience for patients. One missing link was to ensure patients enabled all the proper app permissions whilst reassuring those that had properly enabled permissions, that they didn't have to do anything else until the doctor called at the scheduled time. 

As I answered patient questions and took notes, I thought about what I would like one of my own family members to see when setting up pMD. From start to finish, the pMD design team ultimately came up with an onboarding experience that we would feel comfortable having our grandparents use - that’s when we knew we had succeeded in injecting more love into the product experience. A week after the new onboarding update was released, the number of support inquiries related to app setup and onboarding before they started their first appointment decreased significantly despite a steady increase in new patient users!

Improving communication amongst the medical care team has long been a focus for pMD. This experience has shown us that we can never pause for a moment from speaking directly with our customers (both providers and patients alike) and showing them some love! I encourage you to open up more conversations with your customers - even temporarily hop in the trenches with your customer support team - and learn how you can give your product a proper “love injection.”

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.


I recently visited an optometrist for my yearly eye exam. I left her office with a new contact lens prescription, a travel-sized bottle of saline solution… and a link to a website where I could leave feedback for my doctor. I had a good experience at the optometry office and was happy to complete the short online survey, but I couldn’t help but notice that none of the evaluation questions had anything to do with my health.

Many doctors, medical offices, and hospitals are searchable and reviewable on Yelp. A Yelper’s one-star review of a hospital in my neighborhood starts off with the sentence, “I have no idea on the quality of medical care here, I'm sure it's fine. However….” A hospital in New Jersey received a negative response to a patient experience survey because “the hospital doesn’t have Splenda.” It seems to me that Yelp reviews and opinions on sweetener options apply to a coffee shop or a restaurant, not a place where I go to receive medical care.

Each year, 1.25 percent of Medicare reimbursements are withheld from hospitals. Hospitals with the highest quality scores earn the money back, with greater payments going to the hospitals with marks at the very top. These scores are calculated from 24 quality measurements, one of which is patient satisfaction.

Unfortunately, satisfied patients aren’t necessarily healthier patients. In fact, a 2012 study found that the patients in the top 25th percentile of satisfaction scores were actually associated with greater health care and prescription costs, in addition to a higher mortality rate. In a 2014 survey of 155 physicians, nearly half of the doctors surveyed believed that the pressure to receive higher patient satisfaction scores encouraged “inappropriate care,” including unnecessary and expensive prescriptions, procedures, tests, and hospital admissions.

Some elements of patient satisfaction are very important, such as emergency room wait time and medical professionals’ bedside manner. However, there’s little overlap between the criteria for a good experience at a restaurant and a good experience at a hospital. The customer may always be right, but the same doesn’t hold true for the patient.

At pMD, we create mobile charge capture, secure messaging, and care coordination software that’s easy to use, giving doctors more time to actually be doctors. When in the hospital, patients should just be patients, with a focus on leaving the hospital healthier than they arrived. Once they’ve been discharged, they’ll have plenty of coffee shop - and sugar - choices waiting for them.