Do Your Patient Statements Pass This Test? A Look at A/B Testing for Hospital Revenue Cycle
Are you tired of email spam and annoying internet ads? Well, it might be time to pay closer attention to them. That’s because digital marketers know something about human behavior that you probably don’t — and it’s something that can completely change the effectiveness of your patient billing statements.
What is A/B Testing
Back in the 1920s, a scientist by the name of Ronald Fisher discovered the principles behind randomized, controlled experiments that are still used in clinical trials today.
Fisher started with agricultural experiments, but by the 60s and 70s, marketers were using his core concepts to gauge response to their campaigns. The process of testing different versions and measuring responses is known as A/B testing — a concept that can turn your revenue cycle outcomes on their head.
This is because patient statements and marketing communication aren’t all that different.
As a revenue cycle leader, you want to connect with your patients to achieve multiple goals, including clear communication and prompt, maximized payments. Most of your patients want the same things but need a little encouragement. Some of the most effective ways to help them along include:
- Dynamic color including envelopes, colored paper, spot color, and full-color bills
- Inspiring calls to action that encourage convenient methods of payment including inbound IVR and online Quick Pay.
- Convenient payment capture and processing with merchant services
- Clear communication that establishes trust and eases the payment relationship
- Quality, purposeful design that guides the eye
- Strategic repetition to ensure patient comprehension
All of these elements can be incredibly effective, but if you’re implementing them based on assumptions and vague feedback on past statement results, you might be unintentionally slowing down your cash flows.
Testing Patient Statements
Even if you think your statements are maximizing cash flows, you’re possibly violating some basic rules and need to put your practices to the test.
Here’s a simple revenue cycle truth: some techniques are more effective than others. This effectiveness can vary by region, financial situation, and even patient demographics, and that’s why it’s so important to quit the guessing game and start A/B testing your patient statements.
Tailoring the patient conversation starts with understanding how patients respond, so testing different elements like colors, calls-to-action, and design is essential. Ideally, you will want to be able to create different test scripts and billing formats to determine the most effective strategies for achieving your desired revenue cycle outcomes.
While you’re planning your A/B testing initiative, keep these rules in mind:
Test only one discrete element at a time.
For example, if you offer a discount on up-front payment for services, you could try:
- Telling your patients they’ll save 5% for early payment.
- Giving them an estimated amount they’ll save if they pay early.
Select your test recipients at random.
Randomization helps reduce bias and give you reliable results. To illustrate, if you’re testing two different calls-to-action, you shouldn’t choose laparoscopy patients for one test and hernia surgery patients for another.
Aim for statistical significance.
Let’s say you’re testing a creative design element — the color of your “Pay Now” prompt — in blue and green. You test 10,000 results for each color.
In your first test, you receive 30 payments back on green, and 21 on blue. It appears that green is outperforming blue, but there could be many other factors at play in that 9-payment difference.
If you run that same test and get 330 payments back for green and 221 back for blue, you have much more reliable and statistically significant evidence that green is the more effective design element.
What You Need to Get Started
Effective A/B testing for patient statements is a complex process, but one that can yield powerful results, something as simple as elevating the online payment option over the pay by phone option in the visual hierarchy lead to an average of a 10 percent lift in payments online.
We’ve honed our approach to statement design over 40 years and have found these components to be foundational in billing statement A/B testing.
Implement visual hierarchy theory, eye tracking analysis, and even patient panels to determine the statements that you will use for your tests.
Raw consumer data and behavioral analysis should be used to create tailored communication that increases consumer comprehension.
A/B testing is a learning process that thrives on continuous improvement. Once you figure out which statements are effective, continue to test and adjust your approach to improve your outcomes.
Laying the proper foundation for A/B testing requires a technology infrastructure that’s flexible enough for today’s complex patient payment landscape, but also strives to treat patients like the individuals they are. If your current technology profile is leaving you guessing at your patients’ needs, it might be time for a change, and remember, ABT (always be testing).
This article was originally published on RevSpring and is republished here with permission.