Much has been written about the patient financial experience. However, knowing what patients and providers really care about is the proverbial million-dollar question. You might remember that Patientco conducted a survey about this a few months ago (download it here). Well, our friends at nThrive wanted to dive deeper into these revenue cycle management insights and learn more about where there’s a disconnect between patients and providers.
So, what were the key findings from the survey?
- 79% of patients indicated that medical billing and payment experiences matter when choosing a provider. Yet, more than 50% of providers say they are NOT investing in consumer-friendly health information technology in 2019.
- 99% of patients want pre-service communications about costs and payment options. But, less than 10% of providers are focused on providing this level of patient satisfaction support.
- Patients want flexible, quality payment program options with two-thirds preferring to sign up online rather than by phone. Online enrollment is virtually impossible to do today at most health care organizations.
- Patients cite affordability as a concern 4 times more than providers. However, providers state that upfront patient collections were their chief concern.
Connecting revenue cycle management to a better patient experience
For health systems participating in the survey, the focus was clearly on achieving an outcome. Most stated “I want to collect more patient payments upfront,” or “I’d like to improve my point-of-service (POS) collections.” In contrast, patients were emphatic about wanting to understand medical billing and payment options prior to care. If providers want to improve POS collections, they simply can’t bypass this important step. Not only will this drastically improve patient satisfaction, it will also boost revenue cycle management efficiency.
It is also clear that health systems aren’t focusing on affordability in the same way patients are. There is plenty of research pointing to patients deferring healthcare because they are concerned about out-of-pocket expenses. Indeed, 60% of Americans say they cannot afford an unplanned bill of $1000. Meanwhile, the average employer plan deductible is $2000 or more, with high deductible plans averaging $7000+.
This impacts the health of communities, as health systems risk not getting paid without affordable, quality payment programs. While many health care organizations do provide payment plans and alternative payment solutions, they often force patients to admit that they can’t afford to pay and need help. In reality, patients don’t just want affordable options, they want digital, self-service enrollment.
Patients want to know, “Why do I have to ask permission from a call center person just to enroll?” They want to do it online.
Will providers take action to improve revenue cycle management?
Reactions to the findings varied. Some health care providers patted themselves on the back for their revenue cycle management processes. Meanwhile, others viewed it as evidence that they need to continue working to address their patient financial experience.
For instance, we heard things like, “We understand that statements cause confusion, so we had a statement redesign,” implying they were in the “good” category. Others said the information was helpful, acknowledging that “this is making me think about how I address the digital front door for my organization.”
From a timing standpoint, most health care providers saw no immediacy to address patient satisfaction issues this year. This is ironic because nearly 80% of patients said they consider the medical billing and payment experience integral when choosing their health care provider. Revenue cycle management is one of the areas where a health system could offer a differentiated patient experience. This will get more health care consumers through their door.
For instance, if one health system says, “You have to pay in full,” versus another that says, “Here are affordable quality payment programs and we’ll make it easy to enroll – you don’t have to ask for permission, just put a stored credit card on file and we’ll bill you every month,” I think we know which one is going to get the incremental visits.
This research only reinforces why health care providers should be investing in health information technology and revenue cycle management services to better serve patients. With patients as one of the largest payers now, providers need to give them every available option to pay their medical bill with ease.
To learn more about our survey and read the perspectives of Patientco and nThrive experts, check out their blog post. And stay tuned for our next survey report – it’s coming soon!