The Role of Patient Psychographics in Getting Clinicians Paid

March 17, 2023

Healthcare organizations have become increasingly aware of the importance of understanding psychographics when it comes to their patients. Psychographics is the study of how people think, feel and act about certain topics or situations. This can provide clinicians and healthcare organizations with valuable insight into patient behavior and preferences, which can be used to improve care and outcomes. Clinicians who understand the psychographics of their patients can tailor their care to better meet the needs and expectations of those patients.

Patient satisfaction with medical billing is also affected by a variety of factors, including patients’ demographics, health status, and attitudes. A new study has found that patients’ psychographics is also related to satisfaction with medical billing. The study, conducted by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, surveyed 1,002 patients about their satisfaction with medical billing and found that certain psychographic factors were linked with higher or lower levels of satisfaction.

Patient satisfaction is a critical factor in healthcare quality, and billing is a central part of the patient experience. Satisfied patients are more likely to continue using a healthcare provider and are also less likely to file complaints or seek legal action.

Zotec Partners, a company leading the way to improve the business of healthcare for everyone, has developed patient-focused dynamic outreach technology that starts with an understanding of patient data, including historical trends, demographics, and new data sets such as psychographics. This approach has helped more patients stay out of collections and reduced bad debt for many healthcare organizations we serve.

Our patient understanding comes from being surrounded by patients every day…tens of thousands of daily interactions, millions each year, which is how we know that one size doesn’t fit all.  We’ve developed patient personas based on psychographic data so we can understand as many patient encounters as we can:

  • Mr. Why: Doesn’t understand his insurance or has an insurance issue.
  • Mr. Paid: Bill gets paid and the patient never has an issue.
  • Mrs. Explain: Needs clarity on what is out-of-pocket.
  • Ms. Budget: Needs a payment plan.
  • Ms. Relief: Cannot afford to pay the bill at all.
  • Mrs. Cost: Self-pay for medical bills.
  • Mrs. Pay: Wants final bill owed.
  • Mr. Validate: Needs more information or needs to clarify information.
  • Mr. Confused: What is this bill for?

Paying close attention to their patterns of behavior can help guide our design for payment processes that meet their needs.

To date, traditional RCM companies and collection agencies alike have approached patient billing in a linear way, implementing the same series of repeated steps to payment, for every patient. This “canned” approach doesn’t treat patients as individuals and follows the same campaign steps with every patient, every time they have a bill.  In turn, this billing method generates inbound phone calls from confused patients, who have questions or concerns. Ultimately, it also becomes a patient satisfaction issue due to the type of outreach, the repeated outreach, or the overall billing experience.

However, by applying intelligent algorithms and models based on patient psychographics and historical payment trends, Zotec approaches outreach in a patient-specific way. Zotec leverages data from its nearly 185 million patient transactions to determine the optimal outreach and next best action for each patient, instead of following a pre-determined set of steps. From there, Zotec applies all learning to future outreach to continuously improve and optimize patient billing.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that patients who feel they are treated with respect and understanding are more likely to be satisfied with their medical billing experience. This includes factors such as clear and concise billing statements, reasonable charges, and prompt responses to questions or concerns. Patients who feel like they are being nickel-and-dimed or otherwise taken advantage of are less likely to be satisfied, even if they ultimately receive a bill that is lower than expected. There is some data to support these anecdotal observations.

Another study of over 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries found that those who had trouble reading their medical bills were nearly 10% less likely to report being satisfied with their care. Another study from the National Institutes of Health found that patients who felt they were treated rudely by staff were 14% less likely to be satisfied with their care. Together, these studies suggest that better communication and customer service may lead to higher levels of patient satisfaction with medical billing.

While more research is needed to confirm the role of psychographics in patient satisfaction, clinicians can take steps to improve the patient experience by focusing on clear communication and excellent customer service. By doing so, they may be able to increase satisfaction levels and improve the quality of care they provide. At Zotec, these new data sets have been proven to increase the chances of collecting while enhancing patient satisfaction, and optimizing the patient billing process so healthcare organizations get paid more effectively.

By: David J. Law, Chief Client Officer, Zotec Partners