Affordability is a growing concern for U.S. healthcare consumers. It impacts access to care, treatment, and patient financial responsibility.
Elavon recently introduced their Healthcare Payments Insight Survey Report, where they surveyed both consumers and healthcare information technology (HIT) executives.
“By researching and comparing these two unique perspectives, we can better understand strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvements.”
Here are a few quick take-aways from the Elavon survey:
- 75% of patients believe a bill of $500 or less is too expensive
- 59% were surprised by an unexpectedly high medical bill in the last month
- 48% say healthcare payment are most difficult when compared with other industries
These patient attitudes are borne out by other patient surveys that show as many as 40% of Americans have skipped a recommended test or treatment due to concerns about affordability. They want to pay their bills, provided they have digestible information and options from which to choose.
As the survey makes clear, improving transparency and offering improved payment options can help providers keep up with consumers expectations.
Online portals offer many advantages, including increased efficiency and security, as well as shorter receivable cycles.
Elavon found that:
- 66% of consumers are registered on at least one portal provider, and
- 49% of those consumers visited the portal to check balances and pay bills
Consumers on an online portal set up a payment plans or a recurring payment, and more than 30% set up payment reminders. By promoting these features to patients, healthcare providers can increase the likelihood of getting paid in a timely manner.
The importance of security
With healthcare organizations increasingly challenged by cybersecurity threats, it is important to implement an established security framework that meets organizational needs without being overbearing.
Evalon found that:
- 43% of consumers have been impacted by a security breach, and
- 64% of whom believed it was healthcare-related
Opportunities for improvement
When asked by Elavon what they believe is the single greatest opportunity to make further improvements in patient financial engagements in the next five years, health information technology executives said patient communications and self-service payment options.
Meeting these patients needs results intangible revenue returns.
“The shift to self-service is great for our patients and great for lowering our cost to collect because we are not relying as heavily on staff or early out vendors,” said Chad Brisendine, CIO of St. Luke’s University Health Network, which partnered with Simplee to implement a new patient payment platform and experienced a 71% increase in self-service payments.