Healthcare organizations continue to face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though vaccinations are rolling out, the financial experience for both patients and providers has sharply declined with the fallout nowhere near over.
Many Americans face job loss, with unemployment sky high. Businesses face uncertainty on when they can reopen and at what capacity. Because of these unprecedented challenges, healthcare organizations must put the patient financial experience first by being flexible to a large number of patients. These patients will likely be financially challenged for some time.
The increase of high deductible patient healthcare plans was underway long before the pandemic. Many healthcare organizations attribute more than a third of their collection potential to money that patients are responsible for. This, among other things, has led to a volatile revenue cycle, in which healthcare organizations need to be more flexible in their approach to patient collections.
Providers should position themselves as a partner to patients, not just a healthcare provider. A great financial experience can lead to a more satisfied patient overall. Collection policies that can be considered aggressive, especially in these times, can create a relationship that is antagonistic and winds up damaging an organization’s brand and reputation.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Healthcare organizations have the opportunity to utilize technology that is specifically designed for a more patient-friendly approach to revenue collection. We’ve outlined two ways that providers can leverage technology to decrease obstacles and make it easier for patients to pay their bills.
Upfront payment estimates
Providing estimates to patients prior to a scheduled procedure is an important step to make them aware of fees associated with their visit. This helps patients prepare for their out of pocket costs and can lead to an increase in their financial experience with the practice. Surprisingly, only 26% of physician practices use payment estimator tools. This means that the other 74% are either doing it manually, or not at all.
Practices must offer accurate estimates of out-of-pocket costs that factor in data relevant to the specific procedure. This estimate should include, at a minimum, information about co-pay, co-insurance, and the remaining deductible. Without this crucial information, patients are unable to make the most informed decision regarding their treatment options. Being informed means patients can and will act more like consumers, which is what they have been demanding. It is also the right thing to do as a medical practice.
Digital payment options
About seventy percent of Americans struggle to understand their medical bills. They want to be able to review and pay for all of their medical costs in one place. Online portals where patients can store credit card information for future use and even set up payment plans gives patients the ability to structure payment in a manner that’s comfortable for them.
Another strategy is to implement touchless payment options, which are popping up more and more in retail environments. In light of the pandemic, people appreciate being able to use their mobile device to avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces.
Adding multiple digital payment options is a great way for healthcare practices to alleviate patients concerns while improving revenue. Having a convenient, easy-to-use system in place gives patients the access they want, which has been shown to increase their overall financial experience. This in turn increases on-time receivables.