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This is an update on the September 15, 2017 blog “Collecting Patient Financial Responsibility – Challenges and Solutions

Patient Financial ResponsibilityWith increase in patient financial responsibility, physicians are looking for strategies and information technology solutions to ensure payment for services provided. Though medical billing and coding outsourcing can help physicians manage their documentation tasks and focus on patient care, several reports agree that more measures are needed to help patients make timely payments.

But are healthcare organizations really striving to get their payment? Reports say “No”. A report published in cdn2.hubspot.net finds that 36 percent of providers never discuss a patient’s ability to pay prior to delivering care.

According to a Black Book survey that covered 2,698 providers and 850 healthcare consumers with high deductible health plans, the average deductible in 2017 is $1,820, with average out-of-pocket costs of more than $4,400. The survey that was conducted for both patients and providers aimed at determining how patient responsibility for medical costs impacts uncollected provider revenue.

With millions of dollars of unpaid medical bills, many providers are instituting new processes and technologies to recover the payment they deserve.

According to the survey, the key patient payment features that physicians suggest are:

  • 91% physicians suggest managing consumer expectations through insurance eligibility verification prior to appointment
  • 85% supports transparency via cost estimation that helps consumers know what they will pay
  • 87% recommends making payments convenient for patients via mobile/online

According to Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book, “Emerging healthcare pay trends reveal the opportunity to help patients better anticipate, manage and track the costs of their care. Innovative patient-friendly payment solutions that meet consumer preferences and enable fast transactions are playing a key role in this transition.”

Online Payment, the Most Recommended Option

Online estimation, payment plan administration, and on-demand instructions support (all of which were ranked by consumers in the top five improvements providers could make to improve satisfaction) produce more cost transparency for consumers.

Patient Financial ResponsibilityResults also determined in the first half of 2017

  • Nearly 62% of medical bills were paid online
  • 95% of consumers polled would pay online if the provider’s website had the option
  • 71% of patients revealed that mobile pay and billing alerts have improved their actual satisfaction with the provider
  • 89% of provider financial administrators expect the healthcare payments to be made on phones and mobile devices by the last quarter of 2018
  • Only 20% are currently ready for electronic payments other than checks, cash or credit/debit cards
  • 83% of physician practices with under five practitioners said the slow payment of high-deductible plan patients is their top collection challenge
  • 81% practice staff face difficulties communicating patient payment accountability

Guest pay is also improving satisfaction, as 59% of consumers attribute the convenience and simplicity of online payments without the hassles of registration and passwords.

A 2017 InstaMed report points out that 80% of patients want digital bill pay from their clinician offices. While most patients want to at least pay their bills via an online portal, 68% prefer digitized bill payments inside the clinician office.