The medical care landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, and physicians are scrambling to improve collections by offering patient friendly Healthcare payment solutions. With skyrocketing health insurance deductibles and pay-for-service plans, patients struggle to pay for the medical services they receive. Many private medical offices are still trying to collect from patients with technology that was created in 1990. For all the individuals willing to pay their medical biils, all they really need to do is properly enable the self pay patient with the tools they are already used to using.
The self pay patient in today's medical practice.
Since the 2008 recession, Medical providers have a unique perspective on how the nation's ongoing financial challenges are impacting medical care.
- During the recession, providers saw skyrocketing numbers of patients who simply couldn't afford their insurance payments. This was evidenced in greater appointment cancellations, patients putting off routine medical care, and increased charity services. In a 2009 survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians, two thirds of providers were scrambling to find ways to ease the financial burden while still providing care with measures "such as discounting their fees, increasing charity care, providing free screenings...".
- The Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 amidst political controversy and promises of impactful reform. Two years later, one in three Americans were still struggling to pay medical bills, and five years later there were no fewer self-pay patients than prior to the ACA despite more than 10 million new enrollees.
- While nearly 90% of Americans currently have health insurance today, the industry has seen a 10% rise in self-pay patients over the last five years. This is a direct result of consumers' struggle with higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles, necessitating better collection efforts and a more robust healtchare payment solution by health care providers.
Increase Patient satisfaction with self pay options
Customer satisfaction is one of the key variables most retailers, restaurants and ecommerce businesses are measured against when checking the pulse of their customer base. With the changing healthcare landscape, medical providers must follow suit, and focus on more patient friendly solutions that people have already adopted into their daily lives. In fact, simply offering more patient friendly billing practices that leverage true healthcare payment solutions have proven to increase patient satisfaction.
- Go paperless. In today's digital age, it is increasingly essential for healthcare providers to update their medical billing practices. Paper billing remains the mainstay of the majority of providers' self pay collections, yet the data suggests that this is the least efficient and most costly way to collect payment as it takes more than three paper billing cycles to collect one consumer payment, and costs providers twice as much as digital payments.
- Be proactive. Engage patients early regarding their financial obligations. Many health care providers aren't comfortable with the business end of healthcare, and all too frequently avoid discussing billing issues with self pay patients. Yet the data shows that proactive practices increase collections by up to 90% and ultimately results in higher patient satisfaction.
- Provide innovative, and traditional, healthcare payment solutions. Besides the obvious point of service collection methods, offer "Card-on-File", payment plans and Online BillPay for your patients. Additionally, look into text to pay models for collecting patient balances after the explanation of benefits has been delivered.
- Ditch the collections - Institute personalized communication that establishes a collaborative effort between provider and patient. With more than two third of Americans surprised by their medical bills, it is essential to have open communication about financial expectations. Accept pre-payment, create creative payment plans, and send personal text reminders when payments are due
- Tie patient payments into your electronic health record. Leverage the Patient Portal as a means for collecting payments from your patients and create more Meaningful use from the technology already in the patients hands.
- Offer self pay discounts. Historically, the cash price for health care has been higher than that billed to third-party payors. With the growing number of patients responsible for their own medical bills, this practice is unsustainable. By instituting transparent disclosure of discounts for self pay accounts, you'll increase the likelihood of timely payment.
With the growing number of patients accessing health care, it is essential that private practice physicians bring innovation and creativity to the process of collecting payment in order to improve collections. By incorporating innovative payment options, providers will be better equipped to meet consumers' billing needs while limiting costs associated with collections.