Medical bills comprise a huge portion of mail delivered in the U.S. Healthcare practices manually send billions of medical bills through direct mail every year. Many of these bills are delivered to the wrong address, thrown out or simply ignored. A typical patient takes 30 days or more to pay a bill! With those delays, healthcare practices struggle to pay their own expenses. Enter Inbox Health: a platform that enables patients to easily pay their bills on time.
While patients avoid collections, healthcare practices get paid on time. Inbox Health automates collections using a combination of email and SMS. Their healthcare customers can cut down the amount of direct mail they’re sending by as much as 90 percent.
Email and SMS have proven to be extremely effective ways for patients to pay their bills on time. But there are still a number of patients who need more nudging. "We started looking for a direct mail API to send a final notice for medical bills to patients unresponsive to email and SMS," says Blake Walker, co-founder and CPO at Inbox Health.
That direct mail API would have to coexist with their mission to reduce mail. Lob only triggers direct mail when a patient isn’t responsive to email or SMS.
"We wanted to provide our customers with a direct mail solution that didn’t require them to manually print, fold and mail each statement or send out large batches of bills at one time. Instead, we wanted to give them the ability to simply push a button, or make an API call, and get the bill out to a patient immediately," says Walker. But because their customers are all in the healthcare industry, they also needed a solution that was completely HIPAA compliant.
Inbox Health’s search for a vendor led them to Lob’s direct mail API. "We were really intrigued by how Lob has taken a channel that was once old school, direct mail, into a new era with automation," says Walker. While Inbox Health’s mission is anti-paper, they’ve found that they can cut down on total volume by sending the right message. Sometimes only a physical, paper bill will do.
Direct Mail: From Old School to New School
"Instead of just sending out mass direct mail, Lob’s API works in a very precise way," says Walker. For patients who have overdue bills, receiving direct mail after email and SMS notifications gives them the nudge they need. “It’s a little bit psychological,” Walker explains. “Many patients will make their payment after receiving the first notification. But patients who are late will often respond quickly after getting a paper bill.”
With Lob, Inbox Health has more control over the look and feel of their medical bills. Of course, they can quickly customize all the content. With other vendors, Walker and his team can't set custom design templates or test the effectiveness of different layouts. His team can try out different designs and iterate over time to make changes via the Lob API. "It’s much easier with Lob than with a traditional vendor," says Walker.
Additionally, Walker and his team use Lob’s API to personalize direct mailings for individual patients. "With other billing vendors, you just send them a spreadsheet with contact details. Then they send out all of the bills in a batch, without even thinking about why." Instead, Walker and his team personalize the experience for patients and handle communication more authentically, on a case-by-case basis.
Faster Payments and a Better Customer Experience
"We’re using SMS and email to replace the vast majority of medical bills sent through the mail and medical bills ending up in collections," says Walker. This saves healthcare practices money in two ways: decreasing the amount of time it takes for a patient to pay and decreasing the number of medical bills being sent.
When medical bills take more than 30 days to get paid, healthcare practices lose hundreds to thousands of dollars just sending reminders. "Using Lob lets us reduce up to 7 days off of the average time it takes for a patient to receive their bill from their doctor's office, and greatly decreases how much the practice needs to spend to get paid" says Walker.
With Lob, Inbox Health prevents customers from spending time and resources on mailing out multiple statements. "Part of the beauty of what we’ve been able to do with Lob is achieve precision with paper statements. Now they’ll get the same or better results with only a tenth of the amount of mail."
With the Lob API and Inbox Health’s SMS and email notifications, healthcare practices have slashed direct mail budgets from over $1,000 a month to $70. Additionally, Inbox Health is able to save on costs by using Lob — as well as save costs for their customers. "Before Lob, we tried printing and mailing statements with ourselves, and ultimately paid $1.15 for each letter we sent on average. With Lob we pay 95 cents or less, saving us about 17 percent on direct mail," says Walker.
Moving Forward with Lob
Inspired by their success with direct mail through Lob, Inbox Health is now investigating other ways they can innovate to improve billing for healthcare practices. "Right now, medical practices need a better way to reimburse patients who made an overpayment," says Walker. Today, healthcare practices typically do this by writing out each check manually. Inbox Health is now looking into ways to use the Lob API to automate reimbursements to patients by check for their customers.
"At Inbox Health, we’re always looking for new ways to simplify and automate billing, so that our customers can focus on what they do best: making people healthy," says Walker.
Interested in Automating Your Direct Mail Efforts? Looking for a HIPAA compliant solution? Get in touch with the Lob team.