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In an article for HBMA RCM Advisor’s fall preconference issue, Healthcare Administrative Partners and Obility share how they implemented effective patient-engagement strategies to achieve payment assurance while also reducing overhead costs.

Read the full article, Proven Strategies to Implement Effective Financial Engagement for Patients, in RCM Advisor. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The last decade has seen an explosion in the number of patients who owe something after a provider visit. In fact, the average deductible among all workers has increased 82 percent since 2009, from $826 to $1,505 in 2017 (Kaiser Family Foundation). There doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down either as consumer out-of-pocket healthcare spending is expected to grow from $416 billion in 2014 to $608 billion in 2019 (Kalorama Information).

The reality of healthcare today is that although patients are required to be more involved in the financial side of their healthcare experience, often very little is done to engage them before or after a provider visit. This leaves patients confused and frustrated, and ultimately less likely to make a payment for their responsibility. The data proves this out as only 9 percent of consumers could successfully define terms such as deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum (UHC Consumer Survey) while more than seven out of ten providers report it takes longer than 30 days to collect from patients (Provider Healthcare Payments Survey 2017).

Compounding this disconnect between healthcare and patients is the emergence of the on-demand economy. Now more than ever, patients are able to order whatever their heart desires in a few taps of their mobile device and often leveraging saved payment information for an added level of convenience. Think about the ease of the ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft and the “buy now” button on most products in Amazon. Patients literally have convenience at their fingertips in almost every industry except healthcare where mailed paper statements are often major drivers of billing communications.

Not only are mailed paper statements becoming outdated in comparison to today’s payment standards, they are also a silent killer to a billing service’s bottom-line. The paper, print and mail costs are obvious when it comes to paper statement expenses. However, not so obvious is the staff time that it takes to follow-up to collect after a statement is mailed when compared to electronic and automated payment processes that require very little staff invention and are more effective.

As the industry trends demonstrate, engaging patients in the financial side of their healthcare experience is crucial to all healthcare organizations. However for billing services, this importance cannot be over-stated as the financial side of the encounter is usually the only opportunity to interact with patients.

Change is possible. There are proven, real-life strategies to improve the patient experience with financial engagement. This article will detail how two forward-thinking billing services implemented effective patient-engagement strategies to achieve payment assurance while also reducing overhead costs.

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