“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” some will say. But how well does it work?
“It” in this instance is the patient financial statement, a critical but often overlooked component of business operations. Of course, statements should inform individuals about their financial responsibilities in a concise yet compelling way. A clear understanding can drive higher payment rates, and reduce the volume of inbound inquiries and outbound collections calls.
The incorporation of color can be the first step to creating patient-friendly statements. A patient-friendly statement utilizes color strategically to not only make the information more readable, but also counter negative reactions that a bill often induces. Pantone, an organization with a reputation for matching and communicating color for the graphic arts community, has developed insights into the psychology of color that can also be applied to patient communications. For example, certain hues are known to evoke human emotion ranging from excitement, to calm, to anxiety.
Warm colors, for example, appear closer to the viewer, and direct the eye to points of interest or importance on the page. Consider calling out these items on the statement (such as “balance due”) in yellow or orange. Red is okay, too, but use it sparingly and in a muted fashion; it has been shown to stimulate the senses and increase stress, which isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to patient statements. And don’t be afraid to mix striking color combinations to focus the reader’s eye on a certain point on the page. A statement could include blue and orange to call out a patient’s various payment options, for example.
Compelling use of fonts and typefaces, including bold, underlined and capital letters, are also effective in adding clarity to patient statements. But if the information isn’t organized in a logical manner, efforts to be creative are all for naught. Make sure the statement’s layout guides patients through the important details, including account identifiers, a summary of charges, itemized lists of charges and, of course, the outstanding balance. Some statements go even further and provide more detailed account information, breaking down total charges minus insurance and previously applied payments for example, while others will call attention to the methods of payment accepted, even providing a credit card form with the bill.