Patients’ financial responsibility is on rise, as revealed by analysis at HIMSS18. Patients have observed that average cost increase is 11% in 2017. Increasing healthcare costs and patient responsibility is an ongoing trend that does not seem to be slowing down in the near future. Given the increased payment responsibility, being able to determine a patients’ ability to pay is increasingly important for hospitals. In order to allow patients to focus on getting the care they need, healthcare providers need processes and tools to help patients meet their financial obligations and to establish funding mechanisms that will benefit both the patient and the provider.
Providers report many challenges with responding to growing patient financial responsibility. Over three-quarters of providers still use paper-based patient billing methods despite over half of patients preferring to receive medical bills electronically.
Whenever the patient statements are due, hundreds of statements are sent twice in a month. Sometimes duplicate statements are also sent which results in patient frustration and increased costs. Large and small medical groups are struggling with collecting money from their patients. Some small practices reported slow payment of high-deductible plans, and difficulties faced by staff in communicating with the patients. The key to success is to strike a balance between resolving patient issues and maintaining the patient satisfaction.
Therefore, electronic statement is more effective solution. The electronic patient statement file is transmitted to the third party vendor and statements would be dispatched by the vendors. This saves time and administrative costs. Many patients with outstanding balance are willing to pay their bills but are incompetent to clear them. To assist them through this, once again the third party vendor can create a payment plan in smaller portions that makes it more feasible for patients to pay. Some of the other trends in patient responsibility payments are:
- Majority of the providers are getting rid of manual efforts for back-end processes and bill reconciliation by the 4th quarter of 2018.
- Attention is given to establishing funding mechanisms to benefit not only the providers but also the patients.
- Some patients are satisfied with their providers for sending them billing alerts on their mobile.
- Online payment estimations, on-demand instructions and plan administration are some of the factors that is increasing satisfaction due to price transparency.
- More patients nowadays are getting coverage under high-deductible health plans (HDHP).
- Options for family members to be able to pay medical bills without accessing patient’s medical records without hassle of registration and passwords.
Survey says that nearly 89% of the providers’ healthcare payments will be made on phones and mobile devices by the end of 2018. And only 20% are ready for electronic payments beyond checks, cash or credit and debit cards.
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