Why Patient Billing Matters For HCAHPS

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey, more commonly called the HCAHPS survey, has become an important component of hospitals’ reimbursements. However, did you know that patient billing and your HCAHPS scores are related?

Patient billing is related to patient satisfaction, which is a key feature in the HCAHPS survey.

To receive high HCAHPS scores, a hospital must have consistently strong patient satisfaction scores. In turn, to have happy patients, a hospital needs to focus on customer service and the overall patient experience. It’s not always easy for hospitals to identify patient experience issues, as there are numerous factors that go into whether patients are satisfied with care. However, there are ways hospitals can start to improve their patient satisfaction to experience stronger patient collections and boost their HCAHPS scores.

Here are just three ways your hospital can begin to boost your patient satisfaction ratings:

1. Improve your patient billing
If a 2011 study from Connance is any indication, patient billing is a critical component to patient satisfaction rates, and so your hospital’s HCAHPS scores. However, just implementing small solutions in the billing office, such as training workers on customer service, may not be enough for hospitals to see higher HCAHPS scores. According to Steve Levin, CEO of Connance, hospitals need to think in terms of what the patient wants, and that means patient friendly billing.

“Treating patients all the same in a business office or using a simple balance break is not consumer-friendly, or most efficient,” Levin said. “As an industry, we need to use proven consumer-centric tools to drive down costs while improving the overall patient experience.”

2. Commit to providing a great patient experience all the way through billing
From when patients first book appointments to when they make their final payment, hospitals should showcase they are invested in making the experience of in the hospital as painless as possible. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, all employees need to be involved in the patient experience. This can range of providing nurses with tools to reduce their noise levels during times when patients are sleeping to training finance workers on how to provide great customer service. Focusing on small but important parts of the patient experience throughout the care continuum is key to improving HCAHPS scores.

3. Increase overall communication
Communication is the lifeblood of any business, but correspondence between a hospital and its patient can be especially important. According to the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care, one medical center in the state was successful in improving its HCAHPS scores by focusing on better internal and external communication. The center encouraged better discussions between hospital staff and patients from the beginning of patients’ hospital stays to after they were discharged. However, the center also focused on communication within teams and between departments. For example, nurses kept track of patient follow-up feedback and documented if certain patients didn’t respond to inquiries. This information was gathered into reports that were given to each team on a regular basis.

For your hospital, it may be beneficial to monitor this type of information from patients and provide reports to departments about how they are doing in patient experience. This may be especially true for patient billing departments, where great customer service can still impact patient satisfaction. Even if nurses and other health care departments create a positive experience for patients, issues with patient billing have the possibility of causing patient satisfaction scores to drop.

While there are many elements to your HCAHPS scores, tackling your patient billing can make a difference to hospitals. A hospital’s overall experience is tied to their ratings. To improve your HCAHPS scores, think about what it really means to be patient-centric.