Part of delivering better outcomes is in your ability to help the patient understand treatment options and adhere to healthcare recommendations. For healthcare organizations, patient payment experience is a key concern.
Patients who are worried about healthcare costs are less likely to seek treatment. According to recent Gallup polls, up to 38% of Americans put off treatment due to costs in 2022.
A modern patient financial experience is one that uses tools, such as automation and AI, to allow the healthcare organization an improved ability to personalize administrative processes for patients. It offers a great benefit to patients because they can access information to help them understand treatment costs, what their insurance covers, payment options, and other resources. It also helps your organization understand the patient’s constraints and offer more proactive solutions to help them with their financial processes.
Healthcare costs can be budgeted, taking the worry and stress out of the process and improving the patient’s experience.
What Is the Patient Financial Experience?
The patient financial experience refers to all of the interactions related to finances in the patient’s healthcare journey. In today’s complex healthcare landscape, this can include billing, insurance coverage, payment options, cost transparency, and financial assistance programs.
The way healthcare organizations develop and execute the patient financial experience plays a significant role in shaping the overall patient experience within the healthcare system.
Organizations interested in ways to improve the patient financial experience should consider these areas:
- Insurance coverage: Patients often need assistance in navigating their insurance coverage.
- Cost transparency: Patients should have access to information about the cost of healthcare services, including procedures, medications, and tests. Clear and transparent pricing information helps patients make informed decisions and plan for potential expenses.
- Billing and payment processes: Patients should receive clear and accurate billing, explanations of charges, and timely notifications of payment due dates. Efficient payment processes, including online payment options, can enhance the patient’s financial experience.
- Financial assistance programs: Many healthcare facilities offer financial assistance programs or payment plans for patients who are unable to afford their medical expenses. Providing information and guidance about these programs can help alleviate financial burdens and improve the overall patient experience.
- Patient education: Easy-to-understand information about insurance coverage, billing processes, and financial responsibilities empowers patients to take control of their healthcare. Patient education can also include guidance on financial resources and assistance programs.
The Financial Challenges for Patients
Patients face several financial challenges in the healthcare system. Here are some common ones:
- Healthcare cost: The high cost of healthcare services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, and medications, makes it difficult to budget necessary medical needs for many patients.
- Health insurance coverage gaps: Even with health insurance, patients often face coverage gaps, such as high deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance. These out-of-pocket expenses can add up, especially for patients with chronic conditions.
- Lack of insurance: Many people, particularly those who are self-employed, work part-time, or have low incomes, struggle to access affordable health insurance.
- Medication costs: The rising prices of prescription drugs can significantly impact patients’ finances.
- Unexpected medical expenses: Medical emergencies or unforeseen health issues can result in unexpected expenses, such as ambulance fees, emergency room visits, or hospitalizations.
- Loss of income: Serious illnesses or injuries can lead to temporary or permanent loss of income if individuals are unable to work
- Mental health challenges: Financial challenges related to healthcare costs can also take a toll on a patient’s mental health and overall well-being.
Patient portals and mobile apps: Offer secure and user-friendly Patient portals Software so patients can access bills and payment information. Make sure that these platforms are responsive and user-friendly.
3 Investments for a Better Patient Financial Experience
How does your healthcare organization prioritize the patient’s financial experience? Here are a few key areas that make a big difference for the organization and the patient.
- Technology Infrastructure: Implementing a modern Electronic health records system
- that integrates with your patient portal gives patients access to their financial information in a convenient, easy-to-use way. They can view and pay bills online and communicate with the physician and administrative staff securely.
- Cost Transparency Tools: Using tools to help patients make informed decisions about their healthcare expenses eases their worries and helps them budget expenses. By integrating price estimation tools into the patient portal or website, patients can obtain accurate cost estimates for procedures, tests, and treatments.
- Financial Counseling and Assistance Programs: Investing in financial counseling services and establishing assistance programs can alleviate the financial burdens for patients and help your organization segment patients to offer better care options to help improve outcomes.
4 Ways to Improve the Patient Payment Experience
It’s important to put yourself in the patient’s shoes. Remember that many patients do not have a background in healthcare billing or insurance and these aspects of care can often be confusing.
Here are four tips to help improve the patient payment experience,
- Price transparency: Your organization can enhance transparency by providing upfront estimates of costs for common procedures, tests, and treatments, as well as implementing price transparency tools to help patients to access cost information easily.
- Flexible payment plans: Implement flexible payment plans with options for monthly installment payment arrangements for larger medical bills. Work with patients to personalize their payment plans, making it more manageable for them to meet their financial obligations.
- Prompt and clear billing: Send out statements in a timely manner so patients have sufficient time to review and understand the charges. Make sure the billing documentation is clear and itemized, using plain language.
In addition to these four tips, it’s important to be proactive about your communication methods. Provide clear instructions and offer support to help patients understand all of their insurance, billing, and payment options. Train staff members to be empathetic and patient centered. Providing exceptional customer service is important.
- 38% of patients put off treatment due to costs, so establishing a modern patient financial experience is critical to improve outcomes.
- Patients face numerous financial challenges, including high medical costs and health insurance gaps therefore it is important for clinics to provide clear, concise information, helping them make informed decisions about healthcare expenses.
- Investing in technology and staff training helps providers budget their services.