Everyone who has received medical care in the U.S. has experienced the complex system built around paying for the care you receive. From complicated insurance types to delayed and unforeseen bills, many agree that the financial burdens that come from U.S. health care are the toughest to swallow. The system, in all its complexity, is difficult for a reason. The negotiations that take place between insurance carriers and medical billing teams determine the amount that each patient has to pay on a case-by-case basis. The limited forms of payment exist for the security of the patient and the protection of their private health information. But is there a way to improve the patient experience when it comes to paying for medical care?
In 2018, in a survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics, researchers found that 68% of patients would be more likely to return to a practice for future care if a cost estimate was available to them at the time of service. It was also found that 75% of patients wished they could keep a credit card on file for any balances that come up during their care. Simple fixes go a long way towards improving patient retention and driving practice growth. The easier you make it for your patients to pay for their care, the more money you are likely to receive.
Cost estimates of patient care are one of the largest things a practice can do to make patients feel more financially comfortable while navigating their episode of care. An unforeseen bill, or one that is larger than expected, can unsettle a patient and may lead to higher rates of uncollected revenue. Upfront estimates provide peace of mind and allow patients to make informed decisions about the care they are receiving. The HIMSS Analytics survey found that 46% of patients also said they would be more likely to pay a significant portion of their bill upfront if an estimate were available. This simple step can create massive benefits for both practice and patient by keeping all parties informed and engaged throughout all aspects of care.
The growth of consumer culture in health care also means patients want to be able to pay for their visits using modern solutions. Scheduling apps and HIPAA-compliant payment portals are growing in popularity and patients are responding positively. By allowing patients to pay online, not only is the patient experience improved, but the providers will receive reimbursement for their work faster than paper billing alternatives. A 2016 survey by Aite Group shows that 56% of all bills that year were paid online, while 77% of health care practices specifically use paper billing systems. This comparison shows that the needs of the 50% of patients that state they would prefer online or paperless medical billing are not being properly addressed by their health care providers.
Tools like pMD® Charge Capture™ allow providers to capture their charges in real-time and reduce billing lag. These workflow improvements are the first step to providing patients with quick and accurate estimates of the money they owe and create more actionable opportunities for providers to maximize their revenue while driving patient growth. It all stems from the patient experience.