Best Practices When Working with the Patient as Payer

As we watch deductibles and coinsurance continue to climb for patients across the country, it’s impossible to ignore the impact on health systems. While health systems have long been experts in the world of third-party insurance with the primary insurer as a primary payer, thinking about a patient or a consumer as a payer is not something they’ve had to contend with to the same level of rigor.

For anyone working in the industry, this is both a challenging and an exciting time in thinking about the patient as payer in healthcare.

It is similar to my experience in consumer finance, where I saw an industry that went from being very product-centric to an experience that became incredibly personalized with lots of options both in terms of what people were able to receive and what best suited their needs.

The importance of purposeful analytics 

At the heart of a personalized and consumer-centric approach are data and analytics. But analytics are really only useful when they’re fit for a purpose.

That means not only having a model or an analytic approach that distinguishes consumers into specific groups or segments but one that is also applicable to the unique needs of an individual health system and its operating environment, to the unique needs of their own patients, and finally to the specific point in the revenue cycle where consumer engagement is occurring.

We frequently talk about those stages being pre-visit or pre-service, through visit, through an account being worked in A/R, and possibly into bad debt. Providers need to build on a foundational consumer understanding using things like demographic data and consumer attributes, and then apply that understanding at each point in the revenue cycle.  

Applying that understanding across the revenue cycle can mean many things. It could mean the payment options that are available to someone, such as whether prepayment is required; how much detail a patient wants to see about their visits in an interactive environment; the various communications that you send, whether those are texts or emails or phone calls; if you offer finance plans and whether you charge interest.

You want to make a simple, positive, intuitive experience for the consumer as payer. Make it easy for them to do business and have them walk away feeling as good about the financial part of their experience as they felt about the clinical part of their experience. And for the people on the other end of the spectrum with no ability to pay, those are the folks that you need to be reaching out to for financial assistance and making sure they can be qualified for those programs in a way that’s as simple as possible. 

Want to win your consumer relationships? Start managing their expectations

As providers shift to adapt to the changing patient as payer landscape, they need to meet consumers where they are.

One of the things we know from all industries and the way people do business today is that providing a digital experience is now a consumer expectation, not a luxury. The expectations of healthcare providers are informed not only by healthcare but also by their experiences everywhere else—from online banking to their last digital shopping experience. 

Ultimately, when providers can combine an advanced digital solution with an intelligent approach to consumer engagement in the call center, everyone wins.  

Watch the full webinar to see these practices at work in actual use case scenarios.

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