For many consumers, the holidays mean ‘tis the season for financial stress. However, with the right patient payment plan, healthcare organizations have the power to reduce patients’ financial concernsBetween holiday travel, seasonal parties and gift giving, there isn’t always room in a patient’s budget for an unexpected medical bill. Or, a patient may require medical treatment and schedule a procedure for the end of the year when their insurance deductible has been met. But, this doesn’t always mean they can afford their out-of-pocket costs.

Healthcare is the number one source of collection calls in the U.S. We believe this can change – IF Health Systems adopt more flexible, tailored patient payment plans and financing options

Short-term Patient Payment Plans

The right patient payment plan removes financial barriers to healthcare and improves the patient financial experience. For some patients, paying off a medical bill in short-term monthly installments works best. To maximize the value of payment plans, provide patients with flexible options for payment dates and amounts. This ensures every patient has a way to pay their healthcare bill that fits within their budget. Imagine you’re a patient with a large medical bill. If you could choose an amount that you could comfortably pay each month and schedule an auto-draft payment for the week after your paycheck is deposited, you’d be more likely to pay.

For Health Systems, this can actually accelerate patient payments. In fact, Patientco’s Data Team found that offering patients a more flexible financial experience decreased healthcare organizations’ average days to pay by 12.8 percent, or by nearly three full days.

Longer-term Financing Options

For patients with larger bill balances, longer-term financing options are beneficial. To realize those benefits, Health Systems must educate and enroll the right patients in the right financing options. Oftentimes, this is easier said than done. Traditionally, enrolling patients in financing plans involves staff-initiated phone outreach. Or, patients must manually follow up with staff to learn about available financing offers. These efforts could actually be barriers to enrollment. Think about it – if a patient can’t afford their medical bill, they may feel embarrassed. Asking the patient to share this information with revenue cycle staff in order to learn about financing options might be an obstacle. Instead, present financial options while patients are still determining how much they can pay and enable self-service enrollment. This streamlined workflow will increase patient adoption of financing offers.

Smarter Technology Supports Smarter Financial Communication

What about patients who have received a bill, but have not yet completed a payment? With smart technology, your Health System can segment its patient population based on data and behavioral triggers. This allows you to follow up with tailored communication and financing plans. Fine-tuning outreach to patients and making it easy to enroll in the best payment or financing plan for their budget makes healthcare more affordable. This enhances the patient financial experience while eliminating some of the stress associated with healthcare bills.

On a different note, your Health System likely has patients who are able to pay their medical bill in full. To encourage them to do so, some healthcare organizations offer a small discount on their bill for paying in full. Analyze your patient population and based on their data, it may be worthwhile to include this incentive, alongside other relevant options within the payment flow.

Tailored patient payment plans and financing options alleviate the stress that a large medical bill can bring, especially during the not-so-budget-friendly holidays. Your Health System’s ability to address patients’ financial concerns and make the billing process as painless as possible will differentiate your organization from the competition. Patients will remain loyal and when given the choice for their next visit, they will likely choose your Health System. They will know your team cares about their clinical needs, as well as their financial needs. Loyal, satisfied patients mean more payments, no matter the time of year.