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Every year, the Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report is distributed to start a conversation in the healthcare payments industry with the hope of being a catalyst for change and improvement.

In 2021, the trends are again influenced by the ongoing pandemic. The impacts of the pandemic were felt in every corner of the healthcare industry with constant ups and downs related to vaccines, variants, labor shortages and government stimulus payments. Only the growth in digital experiences seemed impervious to the pendulum swings created by the pandemic. These trends in digital point to an overall movement towards greater efficiency and better experiences overall. The findings in this report offer hope that healthcare can make the necessary changes needed to make real progress in advancing digital channels in the healthcare payments landscape.

Consumer Trends:

The Promise of Better Payment Experiences With Digital

87% of consumers were surprised by a medical bill in 2021

Friction in the payment experience remains constant for consumers, only made worse by the ongoing pandemic. Few industries offer the obstacles and complexity in the path to payment as healthcare does. It’s no surprise that the consumers who are feeling the worst of the industry’s payment problems are the ones who are least likely to be loyal to providers and payers. For all the chaos of the pandemic, there remains hope that things can get better for consumers. The speed at which organizations adapted and created digital pathways with consumers shows that change is possible. Now more than ever, consumers need to be empowered to take control of their healthcare payments. Digital, personalized options must become the norm for a better future in healthcare payments.

Provider Trends:

New Solutions Needed Two Years into a Pandemic

75% of providers primarily use paper and manual processes for collections

The pandemic has challenged providers like no other healthcare stakeholder. Providers across the healthcare economy continue to get pummeled by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Worse yet, the current labor market has added another uphill battle for providers to deal with as more jobs remain open and staff calls in sick. At the same time, providers face new requirements to increase price transparency for consumers as a result of recent federal legislation. However, the laws do not seem likely to transform providers’ slow, disparate payments processes that keep consumers in the dark. To survive, providers will need to find effective methods of getting more done with fewer resources to improve consumer communication and experiences. Healthcare trends point to personalized payments as the answer to many of the problems facing providers.

Payer Trends:

Tapping Into Growth Opportunities With Payment Engagement

86% of payers are prioritizing member engagement in 2022

Every segment of a payer organization is dealing with the fallout of the pandemic – employers, individual members and provider networks. Employers represent a key segment of payer businesses and have been under extreme pressure amid the pandemic, including navigating the Great Resignation and increasing healthcare costs. Trends suggest payers should watch how employers move forward in the years to come, especially the role that self-funded health plans will play. The member experience stands to benefit from a digital strategy focused on increasing engagement through payment touchpoints. Payers have the most opportunity to transform payments in healthcare by streamlining self-service options, removing barriers to electronic payments and increasing engagement for all. This will require a comprehensive strategy that focuses on digital-first and easier payment experiences.

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