Billing process linked to long-term patient satisfaction

Patients satisfied with hospital billing processes are five times more likely to recommend the hospital to a friend, according to a study by cash flow management company Connance released yesterday. With patient satisfaction linked to recommendations, according to the study, Connance found that patients who reported satisfaction with billing were twice as likely to recommend the physician, as well.

In general though, most patients reported low overall satisfaction out of 500 surveyed healthcare consumers. Only 21 percent engaged with the business office after discharge gave their hospital's billing process a top score of 5 out of 5; they were less likely to recommend either the hospital or the clinician to their friends. Sixty-five percent reported a score of 3 or less.

Not surprisingly, patients who had low balances of $100 or less reported higher satisfaction scores: 36 percent reported a 5 score, and 46 percent reported a score of 3 or less. Meanwhile, nearly three-fourths of patients (72 percent) who had balances higher than $100 rated the business office process a 3 or less.

In addition to the amount patients' owed, patient health also correlated with satisfaction scores. Healthy patients tended to be happier with the billing process. More than half (52 percent) of those who said they were in excellent health rated the hospital process as a 5, but 39 percent in fair or poor health rated the process as a 2 or less.

Time also seemed to change patients' minds about the whole experience, the study noted. Patient satisfaction dropped off in later months. When asked to rate their satisfaction with the overall hospital experience at the time of discharge, 32 percent said they were fully satisfied, but when asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the hospital experience post-discharge and after business office processes, only 22 percent were fully satisfied.

The study may provide some guidance for hospitals looking to improve their billing process and patient satisfaction, understanding that the two may not be mutually exclusive.

"The impact that hospital business offices have on the total patient experience is significant," said Connance CEO Steve Levin in a press release. "There is tremendous opportunity for a hospital or other provider to become more consumer-centric and change the experience of their patients. This survey and other data suggest that positive patient experience in the business office is consistent with lower operating costs, better cash performance and improved policy compliance."

For more information:
- read the press release

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