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Will 2023 be the year of the paperless bill? Is remote work the new norm for healthcare payment and billing staff? As healthcare financial leaders look at strategies for 2023, it will be essential to understand the trends that present challenges and opportunities to key business areas.

2022 is on track to be one of the worst financial years for hospitals on record. Decreasing revenues, high expenses and sicker patients are forcing many healthcare organizations to consider tough decisions as they plan for 2023. Additionally, labor shortages and consumer demand for digital experiences are two factors influencing the strategic visions of hospitals, health systems, and practices large and small. Healthcare financial leaders can look to technology and process improvements that drive operational efficiencies to cut costs and increase patient satisfaction and retention. Read on to learn about 12 healthcare payments trends to watch in 2023.

1. Paperless Billing Initiatives Will be a Priority

Healthcare practices need to find ways to reduce costs in the months ahead. When billing teams are mailing two or three statements per patient before they collect any payment, print and mail costs can start to add up quickly. These expenses can be greatly reduced by delivering patient billing information electronically. Paperless billing, or eStatements, is a cost-effective billing option that is widely used by many industries. In fact, many healthcare organizations offer eStatements as a billing option but struggle with adoption. According to the InstaMed Provider Trends in Healthcare Payments Survey, 85% of consumers have the option to enroll in eStatements from their providers. However, only  3% of those consumers have opted for the eStatement option, which indicates there is a challenge with eStatement adoption in the industry.

Here’s a Tip! Promote eStatements as your preferred or default billing option to drive adoption with patients. Reach patients via their preferred communication channels like email and SMS text messaging to prompt them to enroll in paperless billing – even before they arrive for their visit. Many patients will enroll in eStatements when presented with this option upfront. Plus, you can drive more online payments and capture patient payment information to improve digital engagement.

2. Payment Plans Will be a Helpful Option for Patients

In difficult economic times, medical bills are often the first debts to go unpaid when consumers are forced to make difficult financial decisions. 75% of health-insured consumers are concerned about financial hardship due to medical bills. Payment plans help patients manage large medical bills and give the flexibility to pay what’s owed over time. For revenue cycle leaders, payment plans offer some assurance that balances will be paid, along with giving visibility into when they can expect to receive payments.

Here’s a Tip! Promote  payment plans early on in the patient payment journey. Catholic Health trained their financial clearance teams to offer payment plans to patients pre-service. This change led to a 102% increase in installment payments made toward an outstanding balance and a 50% increase in the number of payment plans created. Read the full case study to learn more.

3. Revenue Cycle Optimization Should Be Top of Mind for Financial Leaders

In a time when healthcare organizations face decreasing revenues, healthcare financial leaders must think not only of ways to increase revenue, but how to increase the speed at which funds are available. Healthcare organizations will want to explore opportunities to optimize cash on hand and improve their financial position. The speed at which healthcare organizations can access their funds matters. Receiving funds on the same-day or next business day enables healthcare financial leaders to manage funds more efficiently, free up working capital and understand cash positions in real-time

Here’s a Tip! Evaluate your revenue cycle to find ways to accelerate cash flow and improve staff efficiencies, even in changing and challenging times. Watch our webinar to learn five tips to build a resilient revenue cycle.

4. Payers Must Focus on Preventing Payment Fraud

Payment fraud attacks are increasing for all organizations and claim payments to providers can be a valuable target for fraudsters and bad actors. It is more important than ever for payers to prioritize a rigorous underwriting process, know-your-customer checks and ongoing monitoring for any bank accounts receiving funds.

Here’s a Tip! Keep up with the latest fraud trends and learn about best practices to help prevent fraud and respond to threats. Check out this report and webinar from J.P. Morgan.

5. Hybrid Work Environments Will Be a Staff Recruitment and Retainment Tool

As labor shortages continue to impact both clinical and non-clinical staff, healthcare organizations need to find ways to recruit and retain talent. During the pandemic, many hospitals and health systems transitioned their revenue cycle and billing teams to a hybrid or work-from-home model. Healthcare organizations have found that remote work – especially in revenue cycle and billing roles – can increase productivity, reduce burnout and expand the talent pool of qualified candidates.   

Here’s a Tip! Integrate staff workflows to make it easier for teams to work remotely. Integration is key to making sure data is accurate and real-time across systems. Plus, an integrated workflow will minimize logins to different systems, which will improve your staff experience whether they’re working at home or onsite. Learn more about integration options with healthcare IT systems.

6. It’s Time for Contactless Everything

Simplified digital experiences are no longer a nice-to-have— they’re a must-have. Today’s healthcare consumers want the same convenient, contactless payment experiences that other industries have already offered for years. Options like Apple Pay®, Google Pay and contactless EMV are growing in popularity, and healthcare organizations should be able to accept these options at the point-of-service as well as online channels.

Here’s a Tip! Your ability to offer contactless payment options will depend on your payments partner. Choose a vendor that understands the complexities of both the payments and healthcare industries, with a proven track record of bringing cutting-edge payment technologies to market. Gateway-only vendors often struggle to innovate as quickly as gateway and merchant processor vendors that do not rely on third parties to be able to support new technologies or card industry standards.

7. Payers Face Roadblocks to Grow in the ASO Market

Managing self-funded plans often requires manual, staff-dependent work to populate spreadsheets and handle one-off communications. In fact, 41% of CFOs surveyed said that their organizations do not have the staffing and resources to manage a self-insured plan.

Here’s a Tip! Offer self-service tools with automated processes and gain a competitive edge with employers. Watch an on-demand webinar to learn more. 

8. Security Risks Continue to Threaten Healthcare Organizations

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the trend of increased interconnectivity because people needed contact-free ways to interact. Digital adoption accelerated across the healthcare industry as a result. While this has many benefits, greater use of digital technology can increase an organization’s vulnerability to cyber threats.

Here’s a Tip! Organizations can help protect patient and payment data by empowering their teams with knowledge and tools to prevent cyberattacks. Understanding and navigating threats are imperative as threats to healthcare continue to evolve. Read our eBook to learn cybersecurity best practices for healthcare organizations.

9. 2023 Strategies Will Emphasize Resiliency, Scalability and Growth

Digital initiatives, a shrinking workforce, rising costs, and growth opportunities add up to a chaotic mix of challenges for a healthcare organization to navigate. The role of the healthcare treasurer will be increasingly important to apply strategies that ensure the business can weather the storm and be well-equipped to support growth initiatives to help achieve the strategic vision.

Here’s a Tip! Consider working with a partner who understands your strategic goals and can transform your treasury organization. Learn more.

10. Efforts to Reduce Reconciliation Times Will Pay Off

When healthcare organizations have too many vendors involved in the payments process, it can create costly reconciliation issues. One partner for healthcare payments simplifies vendor management and saves time and costs related to reconciling payments.

Here’s a Tip! Considering a new vendor relationship can be a major endeavor. Learn from the experiences of other healthcare organizations before taking a big step. Read our case study to learn how GHC-SCW reduced reconciliation time by 80%.

11. Payers Will Want to Mitigate Costs of Late or Missing Premiums

Only half of  health plan premiums are paid on time. Most members have to call about premiums at some point in the year, burdening member-facing teams with inbound calls.

Here’s a Tip! Electronic payments with self-service tools can bridge the disconnect between members and their premium payments. View the infographic to learn how electronic payments drive a better consumer financial experience.

12. Trends Will Continue to Inform Decisions

Healthcare financial leaders must stay on top of the forces that will shape the industry going forward. The latest trends signal that the healthcare industry is making progress, including a shift to an investment in the future, contactless everything and emerging technologies. By being informed of the latest trends, healthcare leaders can make business decisions that will guide the organization in the right direction, toward achieving the strategic vision for innovation and growth.

Here’s a Tip! Learn about the five trends shaping the future of healthcare payments. Read the Healthcare Industry Outlook.

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