How to make a patient payment portal successful

Organizations that aim to boost patient collections should consider creating a consumer-friendly patient portal, according to the senior director of revenue cycle for Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Chris Lah, in an interview with Healthcare Finance News, noted that Cincinnati Children's has used its online patient portal to increase collections by as much as 15 percent; saved another $70,000 a year by replacing phone calls with online interactions; increased online users from 900 to 35,000; and bumped up patient satisfaction scores by 66 percent.

Lah told the publication that the organization was able to improve collections because the patient portal includes several key features: Specific information about the bill and why patients were charged the way they were, and options that are available to them if they cannot pay. Patients also want to be able to access the portal through their smartphones.

The approach seems to be a departure from what other providers are doing to improve the collection process. Texas Health Resources, for example, records telephone calls with patients to try and improve collections upfront. Mosaic of Life Care in the Midwest formed a for-profit subsidiary specifically to sue patients, obtain judgments and garnish their wages. 

"The portal needs to be more than payments and detail," Lah told Healthcare Finance News, adding that the continued cost-shifting and higher insurance deductibles for patients makes a well-thought out patient portal crucial. "The portal is a lot about customer experience, trying to push what's the best practice. I think we've got a mindset that incorporates people's ideas, has a customer-centered approach, and matches what customers need and want."

To learn more:
- read the article