Telehealth adoption was low in the pre-coronavirus world. That all changed a few weeks ago – and there’s no going back. By 2020, the U.S. telehealth market is expected to reach around $10 billion with an 80% year-over-year growth rate due to the pandemic, according to a recent report in Becker’s Hospital Review.
Following the pandemic, patients will have different expectations for how they engage with their healthcare providers. The rise of telehealth will change how patients think about interacting with their health system across each step in their care journey. This includes how they pay for that care.
How will telehealth impact patient expectations post-coronavirus?
For many patients, coronavirus fears drove them to their first telehealth experience. Patients quickly embraced the benefits of the virtual care model. After all, what’s not to like about seeing your doctor on demand from the comfort of your own home?
So, how can health systems expect patients to respond as digital options for receiving care become more widespread? We spoke with several health system executives to find out. These are a few ways they’re planning to adapt the patient experience for the future.
Greater Demand for Digital-First Billing Communications
After interacting with their doctor on a video call, patients will begin to expect other ways to engage digitally. This includes how they receive and respond to billing communication from their health system. For example, why should patients have to wait for their medical bill to arrive via traditional mail? Patients will want to receive any billing communication, whether it’s a price estimate or a medical bill, on the same screen they’d use for their telehealth appointment.
Requests for More Self-Service Payment Options
Likewise, make sure patients can pay on their price estimate or medical bill using their preferred device. If patients can use their smartphone to interact with their doctor during a telehealth appointment, they’re going to expect payment options that are just as convenient. Patients shouldn’t have to find their checkbook or stamps to mail a paper check nor call their health system during business hours to pay via phone. Instead, patients want intuitive, online- and mobile-friendly payment options with helpful functionalities, like the ability to review past statements or store payment methods for future use.
The economic impact of coronavirus means affordable payment options are crucial. Yet, most patients would prefer to avoid talking about their personal finances and admit they’re unable to pay their medical bill. This means health systems must rethink how they enroll patients in affordable payment options. Rather than calling patients to enroll via phone or using other manual processes, it will be imperative that patients are able to access payment plans and financing upfront and online. Health systems can prompt patients to view their flexible payment options with digital billing communications. By making options easier to access, more patients can sign up for payment options they can afford.
Expectations for More Timely Responses via Digital Channels
Coronavirus has forced healthcare into a more digital world. Telehealth has become increasingly important for addressing patients’ clinical questions and general concerns. Similarly, effective digital communication strategies will keep patients informed, engaged and satisfied while helping your team run a financially strong healthcare organization.
During and after the pandemic, patients will naturally have questions regarding their health, a bill they received, or payment options. This could lead to increased call volume for your teams. To handle this surge in patient inquiries, health systems must deploy digital channels, like they did with telehealth. Support your patients in a scalable way through channels like secure messaging via patient portals or live chat. This empowers you to address patient questions in a timely manner while reducing the number of patient calls your team must handle.
Like telehealth, compassionate financial care is here to stay.
Healthcare providers are heroes through this crisis. However, finance and revenue teams can support patients, too, by delivering compassionate financial care. Offering a better financial experience builds trust between healthcare providers and their patients. Nurturing this trust will help the healthcare industry recover from this pandemic sooner.