Consumer payments are making up a larger portion of provider revenue. According to Kalorama Foundation, consumer healthcare spending is expected to be $608 billion by 2019. This is a truth that seems to be acknowledged throughout the industry; however, the key point missing from this conversation is just how much these payments impact the bottom line of providers.
For better insight into the relationship between consumer payments and revenue, we can look to two important statistics:
- Patient satisfaction ratings fall by an average of more than 30 percent from post-discharge through the billing process. (2015 HCAHPS Survey)
- Hospitals with excellent HCAHPS patient ratings between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with low ratings. (Deloitte)
The data here demonstrates a clear relationship between consumer satisfaction with the payment process and provider revenue.
The first step to increasing satisfaction is to understand that consumers do not view healthcare payments as different from payments made in other industries. When surveyed, traits that consumers value closely align between commercial and healthcare industries, including giving great customer service, delivering on expectations, making life easier and offering great value. (2015 McKinsey Consumer Health Insights Survey) Put simply, consumers do not view paying their cable or electric bill as different from paying their medical bill or health plan premium.
For the industry to improve consumer satisfaction and thereby revenue, organizations can look to best practices from other industries that collect household bills on a recurring basis while achieving high levels of payment assurance. The catalyst for this success is to successfully leverage online payments to connect with consumers. Online payments are a crucial payment channel as 81 percent of consumers already opt to pay their household bills online. (Trends in Healthcare Payments Seventh Annual Report: 2016)
The Benchmark for Online Payments
When consumers make a payment for their cable, they are usually able to view the payment website from any device with the same functionality across devices. Additionally, they create an account to save demographic information, payment preferences and payment methods, so that they can quickly make a payment without re-entering information each time. A streamlined and paperless payment process like this has become the benchmark for online payments.
Survival tip: Offer consumers a robust online payment portal that features digital wallet capabilities and mobile-friendly optimization to meet their payment expectations.
Multiple Bills in One Place
Now that we have established the benchmark, let’s examine how cellphone companies bill customers to streamline payments. When someone goes to the T-Mobile website, they can make their monthly payment, purchase a new phone or add services to one of their family member’s lines – all from the same account and often in the same payment transaction. Larger providers can offer that same level of convenience by allowing consumers to pay all of the services from the same health system within the same online payment portal. For example, if Stacey breaks her leg, she can pay for the MRI, orthopedic surgeon consult and physical therapy all in one portal instead of having multiple bills from the same hospital for different services.
Survival tip: Streamline how consumers pay all of their different balances with a simple, consolidated statement for services across an entire organization.
Multiple Patients in One Place
There is also the scenario where the head of the household must pay for multiple lines of insurance like car, life, short-term disability or home insurance for multiple family members managed under the same account. In healthcare, a head-of-household may also manage all of the medical bills for various providers for multiple family members. It only makes sense for these payments to be made all in one place as well.
For example, a parent might have to pay bills to the birthing center for the delivery of their newborn son, one to the asthma specialist for their young daughter’s recent visit and another to the primary physician for monitoring their own blood pressure medication. Providers and payers can work together to allow payments for all of these patients through the health plan’s member portal for the same seamless payment experience as Stacey’s example above.
Survival tip: Connect to a network that offers electronic payments from all of your patients, regardless of their health plan, to get paid after the claim is adjudicated.
Healthcare Bill as a Household Bill
Finally, there’s the bill that only gets paid infrequently such as a quarterly sewer bill. It might not be worth the effort to create an online account to pay this bill. Instead, a consumer may just make a one-time payment the way they pay their other bills. This correlation in healthcare would be the young “invincible” who goes to urgent care one time to treat the flu and doesn’t need or want any additional visits. Likely, they will want to pay you how they pay their other household bills, which can be done in their existing bank bill pay portal. Connections with banks allow you to immediately receive that payment with the patient information, instead of receiving that payment as a paper check to be manually entered into your system, which is how many companies, like credit card or mortgage companies, already do business.
Survival tip: Easily expand payment options for all patients by working with a single vendor that has connections to the more than 5,000 bank websites.