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Written by Andrew Neal on Nov 15, 2022

6 Strategies to Implement a Successful Text-to-Pay Program for Revenue Cycle Management

How the right text-to-pay program can improve self-pay revenue cycle results and deliver value to patients.

1. Understanding the importance of a text-to-pay program

Effective revenue cycle management (RCM) can be the difference between plateauing and scaling an enterprise. With healthcare systems juggling between a variety of technology platforms, it can be difficult to decide which RCM tools will help and which will add to the digital fog of confusion.

Implementing a text-to-pay program allows patients to pay their medical bills through SMS text messages on any device. Because the mobile channel and text messages are highly personal and regulated, patients must provide specific and informed consent before any business is permitted to engage them via text message. It is important to not only understand how an efficient text-to-pay program can support your RCM objectives, but also how to receive the proper authorization from patients in order to develop lists, increase engagement, and scale the program.

A recent Salucro study showed that an increasing number of patients would prefer to make payments via SMS text messages. Text message communications are an important tool for expediting payments and providing patients with more communication options. In addition, text messages outperform email in open rates (98% vs. 18%) and have proven to increase patient satisfaction and loyalty, with 65% of consumers saying they feel more positive toward businesses that offer text messaging as a communication method.

Data shows the importance of implementing an effective text-to-pay program in order to reduce friction in the payment process, provide more options for patients, and increase communication channels. Not every patient will enroll or choose to make payments via text, but those that do will be able to pay the way they prefer, which can help increase patient satisfaction and improve their overall experience with their provider.

2. Developing your opt-in list

Obtaining consent to engage in text message communications is a foundational compliance requirement. Patients must enroll, or “opt in,” to receive text messages from their providers. Enrollment can be facilitated in a number of ways depending on how the provider is already handling electronic communications with patients, which always must be established in compliance with complex healthcare privacy laws (including HIPAA).

While not always required, it is recommended providers utilize a “double opt-in” process. With Salucro’s Text Payment Solutions technology, once enrollment confirmation is obtained, Salucro will prompt the patient to enroll in New Balance Notifications as well.

Discovery is key, and healthcare providers can develop and build a robust opt-in list by making patients aware of their options when it comes to making payments. While some patients may prefer to make payments online or by mail, a growing number are trending toward mobile and text payments. Discussing all options with the patient allows them to make an informed decision and select their preference of payment and communication.

3. Creating the best text-to-pay program that improves revenue cycle results

When patients are empowered to select their preferred communication and payment methods, and customize the type of notifications they receive, they are given more control over their experience with a provider. This can lead to improved patient satisfaction, faster payments, and improved revenue cycle results. It is important for providers to inform patients of their options in order to achieve the best results when implementing a text-to-pay program.

New Balance Notifications can help keep a patient informed of their payment due dates and balances. Payment plan reminders are an effective way of keeping patients up to date on upcoming payments and improving communication. With Salucro’s Text Payment Solutions program, reminders are configurable, and sent 7-10 days before the next scheduled payment date on Monthly and Quarterly payment plans, and 3 days before the next scheduled payment date on Weekly plans.

In the event of a missed payment, text-to-pay programs help inform patients when a scheduled transaction has failed. Knowing that open rates for text messages vastly outperform email messages, it is more likely that a patient will receive and open a text message in a timely manner. This can increase awareness of missed payments and speed up payment collection without overwhelming a patient with redundant communication.

After a patient logs into their Patient Portal, the patient may choose to save their card on file and to enable the Text-to-Pay feature. The Text-to-Pay feature allows patients to quickly and easily approve payments of specific amounts using their saved card directly by text message. An integration with your existing Patient Accounting System will permit you to monitor account balance updates and notify the patient when a new balance is available. The Text-to-Pay feature is separated into multiple workflows to ensure optimum standards and practices.

From the patient’s perspective, an effective text-to-pay program is as easy as receiving a balance notification, responding “PAY,” and getting a confirmation of payment.

From the patient’s perspective, an effective text-to-pay program is as easy as receiving a balance notification, responding “PAY,” and getting a confirmation of payment. The patient can quickly pay their bill and get on with their day as opposed to delaying payment for a more convenient time when they are in front of a computer or their checkbook.

4. Increasing engagement using text-to-pay

SMS text messages have some of the highest open rates compared to other digital communication methods. Healthcare providers who embrace new communication methods, like text-to-pay, stand to benefit from a much higher open rate compared to email.

Half of all respondents in a recent survey said they would pay their bills more quickly if they were delivered using their preferred notification method. While no single method stood out from the rest, patients want choices when it comes to their healthcare, including how they receive financial information. 14% of surveyed patients prefer text messages, which means if their provider is not offering a text-to-pay option, a large percentage of their consumer base may delay payments and lengthen their time to pay.

Building a comprehensive portfolio of billing notification options that are easily available to patients can increase engagement and patient satisfaction.

5. Measuring results and scaling your text-to-pay program

After implementing a text-to-pay program, it is important to measure and track results in order to assess the improvement of your program. Work with your vendor partner to review regular reporting and analytics on SMS engagement and related payment outcomes in comparison to a previously established baseline.

Scaling a text-to-pay program involves coordinated efforts at all levels of patient interaction to inform them of their options and ensure that they are using their preferred method of making payments. Patients may not be aware of new tools available to them, and therefore may be using a less efficient method of making payments and communicating with their healthcare provider.

Marketing campaigns and targeted segmentation lists can be utilized to update patients on new tools for making payments, communicating billing information, and staying informed.

6. Choosing the right solution

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to pinpointing patient expectations for financial engagement and management of billing preferences. Patients want options and providers who utilize multiple channels for collecting payments and communicating billing information have the advantage of meeting the customer where they prefer interact with a provider.

Salucro’s Text Payment Solutions program works in harmony with a suite of patient financial engagement features and utilizes a powerful Patient Portal that allows patients to opt-in to their preferred methods of payment and communication. This streamlines the notification and billing process, allowing patients to quickly and easily make payments.

It also allows providers to focus on patient-centered care and track results with efficiency. Improving self-pay collection outcomes involves continually collecting and evaluating patient feedback, and implementing changes to the self-pay collection process that meet patient expectations. As more and more patients embrace mobile technology to communicate and make payments to healthcare providers, it is important to have an established system to send and receive important billing information, and adapt to the latest communication preferences.

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