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Guest Blogger: Chris Seib, CTO and Co-Founder, InstaMed

1. 91% of consumers say it’s important to know their payment responsibility prior to a provider visit

Consumer Healthcare Payments Survey 2015

What it means: Rising consumer payment responsibility has changed how consumers approach visits to providers. Consumers want to know upfront how much they will owe and then understand how to make payments. Questions like “how much is this going to cost?” and “what are my payment options?” have become common in the provider-consumer relationship.

What healthcare organizations can do: This consumer demand goes beyond providers making their retail pricing available. The need is for consumers to understand an estimate of what they will actually pay based on their benefit information which can include variables like their deductible, co-payments and coinsurance. Healthcare organizations can deliver accurate estimates and a positive consumer experience by following some best practices.

2. 76% of consumers reported that they were confused by bills from their providers

Consumer Healthcare Payments Survey 2015

What it means: Today’s typical healthcare bill experience is confusing and frustrating. After a provider visit, a consumer typically receives an EOB from their health plan that looks like a bill including an amount they might owe, yet there is a bold disclaimer – “this is not a bill.” The confusion continues when the consumer receives a bill from their healthcare provider for their payment responsibility, which is often printed and mailed weeks or months after a visit and does not clearly indicate what is due or how to pay.

What healthcare organizations can do: Clearly communicate with consumers about payment responsibility. Healthcare organizations can leverage existing interaction points with consumers to create multiple communication touchpoints. For example, the scheduling process and all email communications are opportunities to explain consumer responsibility and discuss payment options. Formalize the payment communication by automatically generating a printed letter to present at the time of service that explains payment responsibility. Anything healthcare organizations can do to set payment expectations and build trust with consumers will help facilitate payment conversations, improve the consumer experience and increase revenue.

3. 47% of consumers will switch providers for the ability to understand cost upon scheduling and to easily understand and pay a bill using a preferred method

– Accenture 2014 Global Consumer Pulse Survey

What it means: The impacts of consumers no longer putting up with the mysteries of healthcare costs are real. Consumers are more sensitive than ever to how much they are spending on healthcare. Consumers also bring experiences from innovators in other industries, like Uber and Amazon, where costs are clearly communicated and payments are convenient. These experiences have set their expectations for the healthcare payments experience.

What healthcare organizations can do: As the new stakeholder in the healthcare payments industry, consumers want convenient, digital experiences to pay and manage their healthcare expenses. Healthcare organizations can deliver by offering digital experiences through online and mobile payment channels, eliminating paper from the process and being transparent about costs.

4. 64% of consumers reported having interest in using a new mobile payment system such as Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay or Android Pay™ to make a healthcare payment.

Consumer Healthcare Payments Survey 2015

What it means: According to Pew Research Center Surveys, 64% of American adults have smart phones, and Forrester Research reports the average consumer has 150-200 mobile moments a day. It’s no surprise that the popularity of mobile is making its way into the healthcare payments industry.

What healthcare organizations can do: Both Apple Pay and Android Pay are available for healthcare payments (in fact, InstaMed was the first to bring Apple Pay to healthcare). These payment options allow consumers to use their mobile devices to make payments without reaching for their credit card. Plus there’s an added benefit: In many cases, new technology can introduce new security risks. With Apple Pay and other mobile payment systems, healthcare organizations can both improve the consumer experience and decrease the burdens of PCI Compliance.

To learn more about these and other trends impacting the healthcare payments industry, download the Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report: 2015.

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