On June 23, a federal judge granted HHS’ motion for summary judgement over the price transparency rule, which means hospitals will be required to reveal their standard charges and contracted rates online beginning Jan. 1, 2021. As our friend Dr. Stephen Thomas said back in January, “The price transparency rule will just help patients understand their financial responsibilities upfront. This means health systems will still need a personalized, but scalable approach for addressing patients’ financial concerns.” Let’s dive deeper into the problem that sparked the rule and how Patientco can strengthen your pre-service strategy.

Why is a pre-service strategy so important to your patients’ financial experience?

It turns out that a lack of price transparency results in dissatisfied, frustrated patients. In fact, Patientco’s latest survey report found that 42% of patients have felt frustrated by the lack of upfront pricing for healthcare services.

Before developing your pre-service strategy, consider these challenges: 

1. Patients want to better understand their out-of-pocket costs before their first visit. 

Yet, many patients claim they have never even received a price estimate upfront. What’s worse is nearly half of those patients, 45%, have delayed care over cost concerns, according to our recent survey report. However, simply providing price estimates up front can help address patients’ cost concerns earlier so they don’t delay or skip care. 

2. Many health systems struggle with complex, manual processes for engaging patients.

These inefficiencies mean your team probably struggles to contact patients, whether it’s to remind them of their appointment, deliver and explain an estimate, or take a pre-payment. When they do reach patients, it can be difficult to have a conversation and educate patients about their procedure and insurance benefits, or address any concerns they may have. 

3. Keeping the patient experience a priority while preventing lost dollars due to price shopping, no-shows, and cancellations is no easy task.

We understand how difficult it can be to implement a scalable, yet compassionate pre-service strategy. And possibly the biggest challenge of all: How do we shift the patient mindset to embrace your pre-service strategy? How do we change the perception that it’s okay to not pay your provider? Or that you should only pay after services? 

How do we implement an effective pre-service strategy?

The new price transparency rule is a step in the right direction for patients. It also presents a unique opportunity for health systems to build trust with their community. However, Patientco believes there’s so much more we can do to empower patients to confidently navigate their healthcare experience. An effective pre-service strategy helps patients understand their out-of-pocket costs and provides clear and intuitive next steps that connect the dots in the patient’s journey.

How does Patientco create that scalable, tailored experience? 

1. We engage patients via their preferred channel. 

To start, Patientco ingests the appropriate data to deliver estimates and appointment reminders in an easy, patient-friendly way. Our technology determines the best way to interact with a patient, whether it’s via email, text or phone call. We engage with patients how they prefer, in language they understand with intuitive calls-to-action. Once the patient engages with their estimate, they have various affordable payment options. This includes prompt pay discounts and payment plans. 

2. We empower your pre-service team members.

Additionally, estimates integrate seamlessly into your team’s existing workflows. For example, if a patient doesn’t engage with their estimate, a pre-service call work queue allows your team to prioritize which patients they should follow up with to discuss other financial options. Also, a solid pre-service strategy can help your organization accelerate cash flow by collecting more patient payments before treatment. This can be done with business rules that align to your organization’s financial policies. For instance, our pre-service functionality supports enacting business rules that require patients to pay a percentage of their estimated costs prior to service. 

3. Health systems have full visibility into the patients’ experience, their outcomes, and overall satisfaction.

Gain complete visibility over the patient experience. We give your teams a real-time view of patient payment activity and balance information, including prior outstanding balances. Ultimately, no matter what service area, every person within your health system’s revenue cycle should be working as a united team. That’s what the patient should see, too – from receiving their price estimate to their final bill. Our goal is to create a seamless, consistent experience that provides transparency and inspires trust with patients. This allows patients to concentrate on their recovery and care and not worry about a poor financial experience. 

Be known for compassion and care throughout the entire patient journey.

Patients have enough trouble navigating the healthcare ecosystem with multiple, unaffordable bills. An effective pre-service strategy eliminates that by providing patients with their out-of-pocket costs upfront to avoid any surprises down the line.