Prioritizing patient-centered billing: HFMA report emphasizes clear and compassionate strategies

As patients grow increasingly frustrated with the complexity of billing statements, online payment options, and cost estimators, the need for a streamlined financial experience becomes evident. To discover insights to solve these issues, Nordic co-sponsored a research survey and report with HFMA in early 2024, “Curing Payment Confusion.” The findings highlight how payment confusion impacts patient trust and creates significant challenges for healthcare finance leaders and revenue cycle staff. 

With a commitment to view the patient as a valued consumer of healthcare services, the high costs of healthcare are a fear that must addressed. A
2022 Gallup Poll revealed that nearly four out of ten patients delayed necessary care due to cost concerns. Despite these challenges, a large percentage of healthcare finance leaders believe their organizations excel in explaining financial matters to patients. This disconnect between perception and reality underscores the need for a more effective approach to patient financial education. 

To address these issues, the report analysis encourages healthcare providers to adopt a strategic approach that prioritizes patient financial wellness. This involves several key steps: 

1. Building trust from the start 

Engaging patients with clear and understandable information from the beginning of their healthcare journey is crucial. Shifting the focus from "here's what you owe" to "we're here to help you navigate your healthcare journey" can significantly improve patient trust and satisfaction. 

2. Training middle managers 

Strengthening training programs for middle managers in the revenue cycle can foster a culture of patient financial wellness within the organization. This includes teaching them to evaluate soft skills and hardwire excellence in patient financial communications. 

3. Proactive financial assistance screening 

Implementing proactive screening for financial assistance and charity care ensures that patients understand their payment options early in their healthcare experience. This approach can prevent confusion and avoid potential regulatory issues related to charity care provision.  

4. Involving physicians in the revenue cycle  

Integrating physicians into the revenue cycle through a dyad leadership structure can enhance the culture of patient financial wellness. This partnership can help sustain necessary changes and support long-term improvements in patient financial experiences. 

5. Connecting pricing estimates with benefits

Providing patients with clear and connected information about their benefits and expected costs before service can empower them to make informed decisions and see the financial services team as partners rather than obstacles.  

6. Engaging patients post-adjudication 

Continuing patient engagement after claims are adjudicated can further alleviate financial stress and ensure patients are well-informed about their responsibilities. 

By adopting these strategies, healthcare organizations can transform the patient financial experience. While providers have made efforts to make billing processes more user-friendly, the fundamental understanding of these processes remains elusive for many patients. The absence of personalized financial counseling further exacerbates the problem, leaving patients unsure about their benefits, out-of-pocket costs, and payment options. 

Addressing these complexities of healthcare billing is not just about improving financial operations; it's about a patient-centered approach with education and transparency. Partnering with experts in healthcare finance, particularly revenue cycle, can be pivotal in helping organizations implement changes effectively, ensuring a smoother, more transparent billing process that builds patient trust and satisfaction. 


Clear and simple. Patient-centered finances.


Topics: featured, Patient-Centered Care

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