Healthcare consumers today owe more for both medical services and health plan premiums. Though the U.S. spends twice as much per person on average for healthcare compared to other industrialized countries, 75 percent of Americans say that the country does not get good value for what is spent. The healthcare experience for patients can no longer be overlooked. Here are three reasons why engaging patients is necessary to create a better healthcare experience.
1. 72 percent of consumers are confused by their explanation of benefits (EOBs) and 70 percent are confused by their medical bills (Provider Healthcare Payments Survey 2017)
Healthcare is wrought with confusion. Only nine percent of consumers could successfully define a plan premium, deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. This could explain why consumers not only feel healthcare does not deliver good value but are also becoming fearful and frustrated with the industry. Forty percent of consumers fear the costs associated with an illness which is more than the percentage of consumers who fear an illness itself.
The billing and payment process is especially confusing for patients. 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. One simple way to resolve this confusion is by sending patients better statements that clearly communicate the total balance owed, give instructions on how to pay and show consolidated balances across multiple encounters and family members. When patients understand what they owe and how they can pay, there is no confusion or frustration. This is especially important considering that 65 percent of consumers would consider switching healthcare providers for a better healthcare payments experience.
2. 79 percent of consumers still receive a paper medical bill, but only 21 percent of consumers actually want to use checks to make healthcare payments (Consumer Healthcare Payments Survey 2017)
Paper statements are not working. Fifty-eight percent of providers surveyed reported that paper statements were the primary method of collecting from patients. Yet, 41 percent of providers have not changed their patient statement in over five years. The reliance on an outdated way of billing may be a major contributor to why 73 percent of providers report that it takes longer than 30 days to collect from patients. Paper causes processes in the industry to take weeks and months when it could take hours or days.
Online payment options allow healthcare organizations to offer a convenient payment experience to consumers similar to the ones they encounter in other industries. In fact, when asked how they normally pay their monthly bills, 63 percent of consumers said they go online to pay – making this payment channel the most popular among consumers for six years in a row. Within online payment options, providers have the opportunity to offer digital wallets and set up payment plans and automatic payments enabling them to assure payments for their services without multiple paper statements and staff follow-up. Plus, patients prefer to pay this way.
3. 80 percent of consumers would want to check in for a provider visit on their own secure mobile device (Consumer Healthcare Payments Survey 2017)
Seventy-seven percent of American adults report being online daily, and 26 percent reported being online constantly. The digital world has changed the everyday consumer and has given them the power to do just about anything at their fingertips. Healthcare organizations can also leverage technology that lets them reach consumers through their phones to improve financial engagement. By offering a mobile check-in experience that lets patients use their own mobile devices, patients don’t have to handle germy, shared devices or wait in line. They can now check in, view their benefit information, pay copays or any outstanding balances, and sign up for eStatements and automatic payments, all from their own mobile device. Plus, 65 percent of consumers reported that they would download a mobile app to pay all of their healthcare bills. All patients should have the ability to make mobile payments through their smartphones so that they can make a payment anywhere, at any time.