Of all professional service categories, healthcare is one where patients expect the best and do not settle for subpar service. Patients today are more involved in their own healthcare, taking special care to research providers’ reviews, track their own health with digital devices, and switch providers if they’re not satisfied.
And 87% of organizations agree that customers are no longer satisfied with traditional experiences. Many customer experiences are now expected to be on mobile devices. With mobile check-ins, QR codes, Google Maps, telehealth visits, and mobile wallets like Apple, Google, and Samsung Pay, the world practically revolves around smartphone use.
But are healthcare systems keeping up with the trends? Read on to discover mobile options (all HIPAA compliant) you can implement to improve patient satisfaction scores in hospitals—and why this matters for your healthcare business.
1. Implement mobile payments for healthcare billing
Current practices for collecting payments
87% of healthcare providers leverage paper and manual processes (i.e., snail mail) for collections. Other payment methods include in-office or over-the-phone contacts. But these practices aren’t working. 78% of providers cannot collect a $1,000+ patient balance in 30 days. And 74% of consumers are confused by Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) and medical bills. Your patients are frustrated with outdated payment options.
What 83% of consumers want is electronic payment methods for medical bills. Contactless payment is preferred; it’s up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods. Mobile payment is becoming expected; pre-pandemic, 80% of patients said they want to pay their providers via their own secure mobile devices (like texting). And 70 million Americans already use some form of a mobile wallet. These numbers will likely continue to climb as part of the new normal.
Yet only 15% of healthcare systems offer payment methods via text message. Close the gap between patient expectations and healthcare provider delivery—consider adding mobile payment options to your hospital.
Offer your patients a mobile payment option
Invoice information can be sent via text message along with a link to pay and then a receipt. It’s contactless, convenient, and curated for today’s modern patient. Automating this process on the devices patients prefer saves time and energy for everyone involved—payment processing time can be cut down from weeks to minutes.
Per the 2019 Healthcare Consumer Report, “When asked to rate the worst part of their experience with a provider, most said pre- or post-visit administrative processes outside of care were the problem. For the worst phase of the patient journey, 45% said post-visit billing, insurance follow-up, etc.; 38% said pre-visit scheduling, co-pays, check-in, cost estimates, etc.; and only 17% reported in-visit interactions with providers and staff as the problem.”
The lack of transparency and overall billing process is the #1 source of patient dissatisfaction. But it really doesn’t have to be. Show the 90% of your patients who prefer to interact with you via text message that you hear them. Start offering the digital experience of mobile payments via text so your patients are in the loop (in real time) and happy with their experience.
2. Schedule healthcare appointments via text
Current scheduling methods
88% of healthcare related appointments are made by phone call. But it takes an average of 24 days to schedule a first-time appointment with a physician. Office hours relating to scheduling are normally very limited; staff is bombarded with calls, patients are put on hold, appointments are not available, and the process of trying to schedule appointments repeats itself. This consumes staff and frustrates patients.
And when patients arrive at their scheduled appointment, 85% wait 10 – 30 minutes past the time of their appointment to actually see the doctor. All of these factors can lower patient satisfaction scores and hurt your business.
Offer scheduling via text message
The solution? Text messaging. 85% of your patients want to send and receive texts from your business. By adding a textable number to your patient journey, you can set up the option to schedule appointments via text message as well as send timely messages to patients. This could include appointment reminders, a notice that you’re running behind schedule and an appointment time has moved, or the option for patients to cancel an appointment via text message.
Scheduling and communicating with patients via text can transform a common pain point of the patient journey into one that earns their loyalty.
Current feedback practices
Patients often receive post-care feedback requests via snail mail, phone call, or email. While requesting feedback is a good idea, the problem is that open rates (let alone response rates) for traditional channels are low. And even if patients respond, the feedback may have a long chain to pass through to be implemented.
Provide patients the opportunity to give feedback via text.
Sending an automated post-care text asking for feedback is the fastest way to get it. 95% of texts are responded to within three minutes of being delivered; emails fare a 20% open rate and even lower response rate. Asking for feedback shows patients you want to provide the best care possible. Actually receiving feedback via text message provides the means to assess and address the feedback right away.
Benefits of mobile customer experiences for healthcare patients
The benefits of mobile touchpoints in healthcare systems are clear:
- Faster payment processing
- Mobile payments are faster and more convenient than snail mail or even in-person options. Patients can be in and out of the clinic or hospital without waiting on staff, insurance, or dealing with lost mail.
- Better patient engagement
- Open rates for text messages are 98%, compared to 20% for emails. Reach your patients with automated texts for transactions, feedback, or scheduling.
- Higher completion rate
- Response rates are 209% higher for texts than for phone calls. When asking for completion of a task, text messages are 295% more effective than phone calls. Patients follow through with text message requests.
- More transparency
- 91% of consumers were surprised by a medical bill in 2019. When patients can communicate with you via text, you can provide answers upfront (and throughout) the patient journey to conversion—no surprises.
- Increased security
- Mobile payments use tokenized data, which is useless to cyber thieves because it encrypts information like your primary account number and makes the code completely unique to your mobile device (unable to be used anywhere else). Additionally, mobile payments require a minimum of two-factor authentication. With tokenized data protection all the way from your device to the point-of-sale terminal, mobile payments are even more secure than paying with a card in-person. This way, you run no risk of personal information getting lost or intercepted in the mail. And in the midst of a global pandemic, contactless payment methods are certainly the cleanest option.
- Improved patient satisfaction
- Remember this—current administrative practices related to billing and scheduling are the #1 source of patient dissatisfaction. Patients prefer texting, mobile payments, and transparency in healthcare. If you can meet your patients here (and you can, with a platform like Podium), they are far more likely to return and to refer others to your practice.
- New patient acquisitions
- 80% of patients would switch healthcare providers for convenience factors alone. Add to this the reviews that patients will write because of their positive experience with your practice, and your reputation is sure to attract new patients.
Why patient satisfaction matters
There are plenty of tools available to increase and monitor patient satisfaction scores, but the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an industry standard because it measures customer experience and predicts growth for your business.
This metric is calculated by measuring how likely patients are to refer a friend (on a scale of 1 – 10), and subtracting the percentage of those who are unlikely to refer a friend from the percentage of those who are very likely to refer a friend. The average healthcare NPS is around 30.
The happier patients are with their experience, the more they recommend your services to others. The more they recommend your service to others, the more patients you acquire, and the more your brand grows. With Podium, you can implement the mobile tools we’ve outlined to improve patient satisfaction and even keep track of Net Promoter Scores.
Ready to improve your patient satisfaction through mobile messaging? Take a tour of Podium to see how you can get started.