With the continuing expansion of high-deductible healthcare plans (HDHPs), a patient’s responsibility for their share of healthcare costs has ballooned in recent years. The critical question: is your practice maximizing all the technological innovations available to capture the ever-expanding patient portion due?
According to the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), the CDC has released findings showing that 47% of commercially insured consumers were choosing an HDHP, hoping to reduce household health insurance costs by lowering premiums. This shift in financial responsibility has made it imperative for both hospitals and medical practices to embrace new technology if they want to thrive in 2020 and beyond.
The percentage of charges that are now direct patient financial responsibility continues to rise – it’s more important than ever to be ahead of the curve!
Shifting Healthcare Costs Demand Improved Patient Collections
While the healthcare industry continues to evolve, medical practices have been slow to keep up with the technology available to improve their bottom line. Today, 90% of providers use some form of paper process for patient collections, and many don’t offer the most proactive tools available to improve patient collections.
Other industries, such as retail, are setting the standard and thereby the expectations for today’s consumer. And while people under 50 are extremely tech-savvy, Baby Boomers are rapidly catching up and adopting technology at a fast rate.
Technology Enhancements that Pay Big Dividends
In today’s competitive healthcare environment, medical practitioners must be mindful of maximizing the patient experience while also improving practice collections.
Revenue cycle management (RCM) and modernized collections strategies start with a strong training program for admissions professionals, solid (and well-communicated) financial policies, electronic insurance verification/eligibility and prior authorization systems, and strong patient education that helps to build loyalty. In addition, let’s look at some of the technology that can be leveraged to further enhance the collection process either before treatment (for known or estimated portions) or after insurance has paid (for unforeseen patient portions due).
Payment Estimation Tools
Patients are becoming much savvier about healthcare costs, and many now want an estimate upfront – plain and simple. Your job as their provider is to provide that estimate and to educate them further on ways to pay the upcoming obligation. An estimation tool is an invaluable way to improve practice collections and increase patient ownership in their care and outcome.
Patient portals provide an electronic way to stay in touch with your patients allowing them to make appointments, check test results, request prescription refills, ask health-related questions, etc. For business purposes, an all-in-one portal allows you to provide ways for patients to pay electronically and to provide you with their latest demographic and insurance information.
Electronic Healthcare Payments
If a portal is not feasible, at least align payment methods with patient preference. Consumer demand for convenient, electronic payment methods are standard procedure in retail and e-commerce but have been slow to catch on in many medical situations. Accepting online patient payments through credit and debit cards and e-Checks through ACH processing is simple to set up and should be HIPAA compliant.
Prioritize obtaining email addresses, and you open a whole new way to communicate with patients. Most hospitals and practices collect patient information on their intake forms, but few do anything with the information. Electronically generating e-Statements reduces staff and supply/postage costs and can reduce your AR days outstanding by speeding up the billing process. Additionally, simplifying e-Statements helps patients understand their financial responsibility and what is to be paid.
To simplify this process even further, engage a third-party partner to handle your RCM from top to bottom. An outsource of competent compliance, coding, and RCM may be the best money a hospital or practice has ever spent.
Automatic Reimbursement through Payment Plans
When securing patient payment plans and credit cards, be sure to include automatic payments as a contingency for financing. This gives you and the patient peace of mind in knowing that an expected payment will be forthcoming.
Securely Store Credit Card Information
Today with cloud technology and encrypted security, it’s easy to provide a safe and secure way to store patients’ credit card information. Once thought of as too risky, a hospital or practice can now safe keep financial information to be used for patient portions once insurance has completed payment.
The vast majority of consumers are comfortable storing their information on various retail websites and don’t think a thing about pressing the “Buy” button; why not have that convenience at the provider’s office as well?
What’s to be Gained?
Patient experience is becoming more critical as providers position their practices to be competitive in today’s healthcare market. Patients are assuming a larger financial burden and with that are expecting more value for the healthcare dollar. Consumer loyalty often rests on ease of access and feeling trust in the practice, which includes the financial structure and billing process.
Going digital with State-of-the-Art technology is an investment that pays for itself!
Contact us to schedule a demo and see how you can shave days off your AR with technology focused on patient collections.