Use Color to Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Statements

Originally published in the HFMA Patient Friendly Billing e-Bulletin, January 2012

Providers can transform their statements into patient-friendly communication tools by strategically selecting and using colors that draw the patient’s eyes to important billing information—which can result in more timely and accurate payments. Psychologists have long known that color has the power to impact a viewer in a variety of ways. It can evoke a range of emotions, and more importantly, it can impact how the individual interprets information—even if they aren’t aware of it.

Did you know that adding color to your patient statements can do much more than simply improving the appearance of a black and white document? You can strategically use color to improve readability, inject clarity into the statement, and even alleviate predisposed negativity.

Because patients who are confused about their financial responsibilities are less likely to pay on time or in full, hospital billing managers, directors, and even CFOs should take a closer look at their current patient statement design. In an era of doing more with less, improving your existing patient statements can be an effective tool in accelerating your cash flow.

Colorful Tips to Improve Statement Design
Building on insights into the psychology of color discussed by Pantone, an organization with a reputation for matching and communicating color for the graphic arts community, here are a few color-related tips for providers to consider when designing their patient statements.

Use warm colors to quickly direct the eyes. With all of the detailed information included in the most patient-friendly bill, individuals want to quickly and clearly see how much they owe at a glance. To help patients find this information, call out the most important items on the statement, such as “balance due,” in warm hues like gold, orange, or red. Using bright, warm tones implies a sense of urgency that can expedite payment. However, red should be used sparingly because this color has proved to stimulate the senses and, in some cases, raise stress levels.

Mix brilliant complementary colors. Mixing striking color combinations is another effective way to bring the patient’s eyes to a certain point on the page. For example, you should use blue and orange on the statement to call out different payment options. Complementary colors are also used more effectively when they are outlined with a thin, neutral white, gray, or black line that separates the colors on paper, as well as in the patient’s mind. If you are unsure of good color relationships, a color wheel—an arrangement of hues that shows the relationships between colors—might be helpful.

Calm with cooler shades. Blues, greens, and violets are associated with the sea and sky, and can have a calming effect on the brain. Statements printed with large areas of light blue or green can create a sense of ease for the patient while making them more receptive to your message.

Combine warm and cool colors for depth. Considering the dimensional aspects between warm and cool hues, statement designers might want to place warm colors in the foreground and cool colors in the background. This treatment creates an illusion of depth and is one more way to call attention to important items, such as the description of services.

Consider your printer. Many of today’s printing solutions take advantage of higher-quality ink and improved printer mechanics to print a virtually unlimited range of hues at a reasonable cost. The most advanced printing systems are also able to print black variable data for custom messaging per patient and color all in a single pass through the equipment, eliminating the need to preprint color stock.

A Colorful Approach
Strategic use of color can help highlight important information for patients and help ensure that your messages are read. Consider designing patient-friendly statements using subtle, but deliberate, colors to increase readability and direct patients to due dates, payment options, and balances. Taking the perplexity out of the patient statement leads to quicker and more accurate payments and a healthier revenue cycle.

With an advanced printing system and patient statement design expertise, Emdeon Express Bill Services can transform your patient statements to help you collect more, faster. Call 877.EMDEON.6 (877-363-3666) or visit us online to learn more today.

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