Whitepaper | Keith Slater
Change Healthcare, Executive Vice President, Patient Access Services
Slater has 29 years of healthcare experience, which includes key executive roles helping providers optimize their operations through technology and service excellence.
As the healthcare industry transitions to value-based reimbursement, patients are more financially responsible for their health. As part of this increased responsibility, today’s consumers want providers to deliver more retail-like experiences—and they are willing to shop around until they find the best value. They also want providers to help them better understand their healthcare expenses and options. Yet right now, an overwhelming majority of patients are underwhelmed with the financial education providers share.
The average deductible for consumers with employer coverage rose from $303 to $1,505 between 2006 and 2017.1
Last year, a national research study of payer, provider, and consumer activities conducted by ORC International and commissioned by Change Healthcare, found only a fifth of consumers thought their experience with providers improved, and about the same thought things were worse.2
Rising healthcare consumerism and increasing market consolidations are making it more important than ever for providers to take charge of their patient referral leakage—by focusing on patient satisfaction.
One way to increase patient satisfaction is to improve their financial journey. Focusing on the patient’s first encounters with the provider via pre-service and point-of-service initiatives, such as eligibility and enrollment, is the first step.
Shifting Financial Responsibilities Increase Bad Debt Risks
As high-deductible health plan (HDHP) adoption increases, patients who grew accustomed to paying a co-pay at the time of service, and their insurance paying most of the final bill post-service, are trying to adjust to a new arrangement—one where the patient owes more upfront.
It’s now common for hospitals to see patients with annual deductibles anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.2 This increase in financial responsibility comes at a time when the average American’s finances are already stretched, and most are deprioritizing medical expenses. In fact, research indicates all consumers at all levels are more likely to pay their mortgage, insurance, loans, utilities, cable TV, internet, lawn care, and newspaper bills over paying their healthcare invoices.3
As patients bear more financial responsibility for their care, providers that don’t take steps to address the consumerism trend are likely to experience a rise in bad debt, putting their bottom line at risk.
Improve Collections Through Patient Education, Eligibility, and Enrollment
Hospitals and health systems that do everything feasible to facilitate patients’ abilities to pay more upfront are more likely to offset a rise in bad debt. Providers can decrease the risks of uncompensated care and bad debt by implementing strategies to help proactively collect from patients prior to care delivery. Today’s hospital and health system leaders are focusing on three strategic priorities to help decrease uncompensated care, limit the risk of bad debt, and increase collections, while improving satisfaction for both patients and staff.