Thinking about patients as consumers has started to shift how the healthcare industry operates. Health Systems know that consumers rely on the patient experience as a factor in their care decision making. Part of a better patient experience involves greater price transparency. the increase in high-deductible health plans drives some of this. These plans account for nearly half of the population that’s covered by a commercial health plan. Patients are now the third largest payer behind Medicare and Medicaid. Naturally, the call for price transparency is louder than ever.
So, how can Health Systems support meaningful price transparency while addressing the shift toward consumerism?
Sloan Clardy, President of Technology Solutions at nThrive, answers this in his contributed article for HIT Consultant. Let’s dive deeper into a few of the price transparency best practices that Sloan explores in his article.
Price Transparency That’s Patient-Friendly
Sloan advises Health Systems to use patient-friendly descriptions of healthcare services. This is something we preach at Patientco, too. Patients are not familiar with CPT and ICD-10 codes and when they have to decipher those codes, they are left frustrated and confused.
“Providing patients with both a friendly description AND the ICD-10 description at the time of order, allows the patient to effectively price compare, and provides a greater sense of ownership on their overall healthcare journey,” recommends Sloan.
Likewise, apply patient-friendly descriptions to statements sent post-service. By offering easy-to-understand charge explanations on their statements, patients are more likely to trust and pay their bill. This paves the way for a better overall patient experience, from scheduling to post-discharge.
Better Estimates Drive Outcomes
Ensuring patients receive accurate estimates at pre-service is another best practice. No one wants to be blindsided by an expensive healthcare bill. While we can’t solve the price transparency issue overnight, we can provide more accurate estimates to help patients understand their financial responsibility sooner. This minimizes the chance of a surprisingly high bill balance after treatment. At Patientco, we also encourage Health Systems to integrate self-service payment options with their estimator tool. This should include flexible payment options like payment plans. After all, 99% of patients want to know their costs and payment options upfront, according to our survey of patients from earlier this year. Offering an estimate at pre-service along with access to affordable payment options improves the patient’s experience with your Health System. Plus, even a small payment upfront on an estimate establishes a patient’s commitment to pay, which can yield big returns later.
Take a Personal Approach
Additionally, the patient experience should be personalized and the right approach supports price transparency in a meaningful way.
Sloan advises, “The effective deployment of a patient-centric approach requires a process change in the way that care is ordered and scheduled. Asking patients for their preferences and segmenting them by preference, and other factors, including financial status, can help providers develop personalized solutions, tailored to each patient and their unique needs.”
Providers tailor treatment based on the patient’s clinical needs. Similarly, tailor payment options based on the patient’s financial needs. By segmenting and then targeting payment options accordingly, Health Systems can start to see which payment options work best for each patient segment. From there, you can push those same options to any new patients that have similar backgrounds.
With greater price transparency comes a better patient financial experience. Concerns about healthcare costs are more prevalent than ever. However, taking actions to address those concerns earlier in the patient journey pays off. Patients are more satisfied and as a result, more loyal to your Health System.
nThrive is a partner of Patientco that provides medical billing and coding, business analytics and advisory services.