We’re experiencing the first recessionary environment since the rise of high deductible health plans in 2010. Economists predicted then that healthcare systems would see the revenue attributed to patients reach about 20% over the following 10 years. In fact, some of our clients now see over 30% of revenue fall to the responsibility of the patient. Exacerbating the issues for healthcare systems: patients don’t pay medical bills first, often prioritizing them behind other obligations like mortgages and utilities.
To support patients while sustaining health systems, we have three recommendations for providers: manage costs, accelerate revenue recovery, and offer help to those who need it.
Here, we focus on the second recommendation: accelerating revenue recovery (find the rest of our recommendations here).
One of the most important things for health systems to work toward is making the patient experience better. People don’t purposely avoid medical bills; they’re often confused by the billing process, which has historically been driven by claims processing. Many healthcare billing processes today are built on technologies and communications approaches from another age. The sheer volume of patient statements generated from legacy platforms can be dizzying. With the array of bills, sent repeatedly over the course of a month, along with different bills for different family members, it’s no wonder patients have a hard time understanding what’s owed.
Patients want to see all the information that’s pertinent to their medical bills in one place: the balance of a health savings account should be clearly displayed; the explanation of benefits handy. People want to reconcile their EOBs with the actual charges. Bringing all this data together into one place lessens confusion and frustration and motivates patient payment.
Patients also want information on their terms, so a platform designed around patient preferences is critical. That platform should be able to communicate with patients in ways they want. For some, it might be paper. But many want texts and email notifications.
This brings us to another key point. Provide patients with a really easy way to pay, ideally just one time a month. Pestering people to pay multiple times a month is not a patient-friendly billing approach. When patients do engage to pay, give them different payment mediums that work for them: these could be digital portals, text messaging, or kiosks in the hospital system. The point really is to meet patients where they are and offer what best works for them.
Finally, patients need flexibility, especially now. While most balances are actually small, there is a growing quantity of larger balances as a result of high deductible plans. Put options in front of people that are driven by intelligence, scoring, and segmentation. Allow people to pay within their means over time and encourage them to self-service to access those options.
Ultimately, patients want to understand and pay what they owe. But they need and expect billing transparency. Lessening the confusion around what’s owed and providing options on how to pay are some of the simplest and best ways to ensure health systems reduce their costs and recover patient revenue.
For more insights on sustaining health systems while supporting patients, watch the webinar, “Three Ways to Reduce Cost and Recover Patient Revenue During a Recession” with Vince Martino, Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder at VisitPay and Ryne Natzke, Vice President of Strategic Accounts and Healthcare at Sphere.