Patient healthcare costs have skyrocketed in the past few years. According to a revenue cycle survey by Black Book that found patient financial responsibility has increased 29.4 percent since 2015, average deductibles now cost consumers $1,820 and out-of-pocket costs have risen to over $4,400 a year.1
Consumer Expectations on the Rise
As consumers shoulder a greater portion of healthcare costs, expectations for a more retail-like payment experience are rising. Through its survey, Black Book discovered that 82 percent of providers and 92 percent of hospitals are planning to replace their time-intensive, manual collection processes by Q4 2018.2
To improve the patient experience, they are planning to replace them with patient-focused payment systems that facilitate pricing transparency, pre-service insurance verification and convenient payment options.
This underscores a West study that revealed managing healthcare costs is a growing area of concern for consumers and that providing costs prior to delivering care is one of the leading ways providers can increase patient satisfaction. Nearly half of patients (49 percent) said that communicating out-of-pocket costs in advance is essential,3 yet 36 percent of providers never discuss a patient’s ability to pay prior to delivering services.4
Automating Patient Payment Conversations
One way providers can start improving the patient experience now is by using their patient engagement technology to communicate patient costs. Although many providers already have this technology, less than half (41 percent) use these tools to prompt patients to pay bills.5
Financial conversations can start before patients even arrive for appointments with patient payment reminders sent via voice calls, texts or emails. These can be delivered throughout the billing process to:
- Inform patients of their out-of-pocket costs prior to treatment
- Avoid “surprise bills” by communicating patient responsibility before statements are mailed
- Remind patients of past-due amounts and educate them about payment options
Automated notifications can help improve patient experience and streamline the collection process in other ways as well: remind patients to bring their insurance information to their appointments, verify patient co-pays and give patients more time to plan for medical expenses.
To read more about how to increase your revenue with proactive payment messages, read the West white paper, Optimizing Revenue: Solving Healthcare’s Revenue Challenges Using Technology-Enabled Communications.
1 Black Book Research, “Providers Driven to Implement Patient-Centric Financial Solutions as Consumer Payment Responsibility Skyrockets,” Press Release, Oct 24, 2017.