The Healthcare Consumer
John arrives at his physician’s office for an appointment. He shows his healthcare provider a report generated by an app he uses on his phone to track his symptoms, which helps the provider order an in-house workup. As he leaves the office, he asks the front desk staff if they need anything else from him, and he is told to have a nice day. He uses another app on his phone to arrange for a ride-sharing service to pick him up, and on the way home home he makes menu selections for the upcoming week of his meal delivery service before an automatic payment is collected from his account.
A few weeks later, a paper bill arrives in the mail detailing John’s responsibility for that medical encounter. He is surprised and confused by the contents of the billing statement, and sets it aside until he can reread it later when he has time to make sense of it and call the office to ask questions. Several weeks later, he receives another notice that the balance is still outstanding. Oops.
In 2017, InstaMed released a report that provides data to contextualize John’s consumer behavior in the world of revenue cycle management. From what we know of John, he is likely one of the 68 percent of consumers who prefer to pay healthcare bills electronically. He is one of the 86 percent of consumers still receiving a paper bill, even though only 21 percent of consumers prefer to pay by check. He is also one of the 74 percent of consumers who find healthcare billing statements to be confusing.
The Healthcare Organization
There is another side of the equation in John’s story. The medical office hasn’t yet collected on his account, and yet a redundant amount of resources have already been spent chasing after his account in a manner that isn’t efficient for the organization or meeting John’s consumer expectations. Consider the staff-hours, paper, ink, and postage costs to bill John, and the costs the practice has yet to incur for processing a mailed-in check or pursuing further collection efforts. Now multiply those costs for every patient encounter. Here’s a tool to tailor those calculations to the unique parameters of your own healthcare organization.
The good news for both the healthcare organization and the healthcare consumer is that their needs can be addressed with modern software. The consumer can expect fewer surprises with automated eligibility verification and payment estimators, which also saves the office labor hours down the road, and the office can arrange payment plans and securely store credit cards for later or recurring collection. Patient portals improve communication with the patient with secure messaging and e-statements, and provide more flexibility for payments.
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The healthcare sector is unique compared to other consumer interactions, but efforts continue to improve the experience for both consumers and providers. With the tools available today, there are already few excuses for mystery and miscommunication in the revenue cycle. By the time John arrives at the office in a self-driving vehicle, inefficient billing practices should long be a thing of the past.