Predicting Whether Patients Will Pay for Telemedicine Visits
Effectively collecting patients’ portion of their medical bills is part ingenuity and part science. As new care delivery models enter the market, how much ingenuity and science you need to drive your revenue cycle performance is anyone’s guess.
Features related to service delivery quality, patient source and patient involvement appear to contribute more to the patient’s payment decision than features related to physician reputation.
However, a new study on telemedicine visits in China offers some ideas for healthcare providers in the U.S. on how to increase the odds that patients will pay you for their virtual visits with your doctors.
The researchers analyzed more than 1.5 million telemedicine visits from 2009 through 2018 from China’s largest telemedicine platform. More than 9,400 hospitals and 500,000 physicians use the platform to connect virtually with their patients. The platform offers a few free trial telemedicine appointments and then paid appointments after that.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) to pore through the data, the researchers were able to identify when patients were more likely to pay for a telemedicine visit based on 11 platform features.
Based on the study, the six most important features are:
(the patient had an existing relationship with the doctor)
(how often the doctor responded to a patient’s inquiries)
(how often a patient sent a thank you note or virtual gift to a doctor)
(total number of posts during a patient’s virtual interaction with a doctor)
(indicative of a follow-up visit with a doctor)
(platform function that keeps the doctor-patient dialog confidential)
Less important, per the research data, included the physicians’ titles or credentials or the ranking or reputation of the physicians’ affiliated hospitals.
“Our results show that features related to service delivery quality, patient source and patient involvement appear to contribute more to the patient’s payment decision than features related to physician reputation,” the researcher said.
What the researchers found and how they found it are important to know as your health system launches or expands its virtual care footprint to compete in today’s consumer-driven healthcare economy.
First, patient experience trumps your brand in determining whether patients will pay to use your digital front door. What they’ve come to expect in online acumen and service from other industries, they will expect of your hospital or health system. It’s crucial to get it right.
Second, you can use AI-powered technologies to sift through your data and identify the things that are affecting your revenue cycle performance one way or the other. Once you identify those factors, you can fix them or build upon them to improve your revenue cycle results.
The right combination of ingenuity and science will help your healthcare organization see a return on your virtual care investment.