With rising healthcare costs and increasing insurance deductibles, the payment experience is frequently the patient’s biggest worry. Healthcare practices that provide user-friendly solutions to that headache do a great service to their patients. Here are four simple but highly effective paths to a positive patient payment experience.
No consumer would agree to home improvements or auto repairs without first seeing a cost estimate. But healthcare providers often overlook this important step, which makes patients reluctant to keep their appointments. Forty percent are, in fact, more concerned about the cost of treatment than they are about taking care of their own health.
An affordable solution is to use an online healthcare cost estimator tool. Within minutes patients can have a clear understanding of the cost of treatment, as well as how much of that cost is their responsibility. The provider can also show patients lower cost options, if those are available, to give them more choice and control over their care.
Pricing must also take insurance eligibility into consideration, especially since deductibles have risen more than 80 percent since 2009. But verifying insurance can be a painstaking and time-consuming process. Oftentimes, even after a practice does all that work, they discover that the information they used was outdated. That only contributes to patient stress and confusion.
Again, the appropriate technology can offer a reliable solution. Turnkey software programs, which are cloud-based and HIPAA compliant, can instantly perform eligibility verification, and incorporate that into the patient’s price estimate. That saves time, money, and helps to reduce expensive and aggravating no-shows. The best of these programs will also automatically file insurance claims, to speed up payments and help eliminate claim rejections.
It is estimated that patients now pay nearly 50 percent more out-of-pocket compared to just five years ago. To help ensure a better patient experience, today’s providers have to do more than just administer quality care. They also need to provide financial flexibility. Otherwise patients may default on their payments or simply avoid the treatment they need.
Online payment portals that accept all types of payment are one way to accomplish that. Another is to give patients, especially those with burdensome out-of-pocket expenses, the ability to schedule repayment over time. A secure automated payment processing platform with the ability to accept recurring payments, while also allowing patients to set up their own payment plans, is the answer.
Nearly 10 percent of patients don’t understand basic healthcare insurance concepts. But healthcare providers can educate and engage them by answering questions face-to-face or through newsletters, blogs, and other forms of sustained communication.
Patients should also be sent bills and statements immediately, instead of making them wait 30 days. That keeps them informed and engaged, and also helps them minimize the risk hurting their credit through a late payment. Providers should also take advantage of the fact that patients want to use convenient online portals and mobile apps to manage their healthcare and finances.
The upside for providers who adopt these strategies is huge. Not only do they reduce patient anxiety and create a more positive experience, but they strengthen relationships and retention rates. They also lower the cost of collections, improve cash flow, and free-up staff to concentrate on enhanced patient care.