COVID-19 is putting the healthcare industry to the test. At the same time, it’s causing rapid changes – read on for what your health system should expect and ways you can respond. Let’s start with how the pandemic has made compassionate financial care for patients even more of a priority. Plus, we’ll suggest the payment options that can help, like patient payment plans.
Expect Demands for More Compassionate Financial Care
We’re seeing a renewed focus on showing compassion toward patients, especially during their financial experience because of COVID-19. Patients shouldn’t be sent to bad debt after the pandemic. Financial situations have changed for a lot of people. This means offering flexible options, like patient payment plans, is more important than ever.
To offer compassionate financial care, keep these 3 tips in mind:
1. Make patient payment plans self-service.
Recognize that a month ago, a patient may have been able to afford a medical bill of $400 with no problem. Today, that patient may not have the budget for it. During these unpredictable times, affordable payment options are crucial. Given the increased patient volume that health systems are expecting over the next few weeks, self-service enrollment in affordable payment options will be especially important. Allow online sign up for patient payment plans using business rules established by your health system. Also, for existing patient payment plans, let patients add a new balance to their plan themselves. This lets patients manage multiple balances in one, easy plan instead of calling to add a new balance. For health system RCM teams, these self-service features reduce call volume and manual work. This will protect your team’s limited bandwidth, which will be critical in the coming weeks.
2. Adjust patient payment plan rules as needed.
Meet your patients where they’re at financially and show compassion for their current situation. That means shifting patient payment plan rules should be quick and easy. For some of our health system clients, patient payment plans are typically limited to 6-12 months. However, the economic impact of COVID-19 might call for extending patient payment plans out to 9-15 months, depending on your health system and patient population.
3. Support other personalized payment options.
Keep in mind that what works for one patient, may not work for another patient. That’s why offering a variety of tailored payment options, beyond patient payment plans is a good idea. For example, allow patients to schedule a payment in the future. They may not have enough funds available to pay now, but they might after their next payday. Provide patients with the option to pay all or a portion of their balance on a pre-determined date, like when their direct deposit hits. If only a partial payment is made, the rest of the balance can be due six weeks later. For patients who can pay in full, consider offering a prompt payment discount. This will incentivize those who have funds available to pay sooner rather than later.
It’s hard to predict every change that COVID-19 will bring. That said, these unpredictable times call for engaging patients in a way that’s personalized, yet scalable and ultimately, offering compassionate financial care! Hopefully, the tips in this blog (such as extending patient payment plans) demonstrate how you can infuse compassion into your patient financial experience.