By T. Scott Law, Founder & CEO of Zotec Partners
We are all patients just as we are all consumers—and to most of us, the lines between clinical care and bill care are becoming increasingly blurred, viewing the experiences as the same.
As consumers and patients, we have high expectations and want convenience, choice, and control. Patients are now driving their billing expectations. They are no longer passive participants in the financial experience—patients hold the power. The key to meeting patient expectations around medical billing is a thorough understanding of the patient.
Within the past year, nearly everything has changed, technology is advancing, and the patient experience is at the forefront like never before. Understanding today’s consumer trends impacting the patient experience will help healthcare providers build greater satisfaction and practice loyalty.
Forging a solid relationship with the right healthcare solutions partner can help providers meet patients’ rising expectations, all while optimizing revenue with empathy. Here are five macro trends driving significant learnings and innovation in revenue cycle management and the patient bill experience:
In a recent survey by Managed Healthcare Executive, nearly 60% of patients expect a digital healthcare retail-like experience from their providers. That means online payments—available from any device have become the rule, rather than the exception. Streamlined access bypassing complicated logins or portals is becoming a thing of the past as contactless payments, and electronic receipts are the new normal.
Change has been coming, but with COVID, it accelerated and we have a new norm—online engagement in all parts of the patient healthcare experience. A recent focus on telehealth has had a valuable impact on patients and providers alike during the pandemic. During this same time (and really before), Zotec has been hyper-focused on telepay. Just in the last six months, we’ve seen a 14% increase in patients making medical appointments online and a 4% increase in mobile application engagements.
As we’ve seen for years, patients continue to be more responsible for their medical expenses. According to the KFF Employer Health Benefits 2020 Annual Survey, 28% of financial responsibility has shifted to patients paying bills out of their own pocket, adding stress and uncertainty over the financial impact. Deductibles have outpaced patients’ earnings by more than three times and are up 111% in the last 11 years, while salaries have only risen 27%. Zotec is continuing to find innovative, creative solutions to help patients navigate this financial stress.
To help with financial challenges, Zotec proactively implemented prompt payment plans for our client’s patients. What we’ve noticed is that payment plans significantly impact the success of bill payment. We’ve seen a 184% increase in people using payment plans in the past year. Of these patients, 59% pay in full within an average of five and a half months.
By listening to patients’ needs, we’re able to work together to provide options, upfront cost estimates, and the convenience of payment choices—amounts, frequency, and duration. So, while providers receive full payment, your patients have more empathetic, personalized experiences, avoiding collections trauma and reducing bad debt for the practice.
Patients are becoming increasingly insightful and knowledgeable about their financial experiences and expect transparency and clarity in the pricing of all their medical encounters. Patients need to understand why they are receiving a bill, their payment options, and what insurance covers. In fact, 10% of patients won’t pay their bill if they don’t understand the claims process, and 75% of patients won’t pay their bill if the process is too confusing.
Transparency is just as important to providers. With hurdles in viewing patient demographics, medical records, and payment history, providers rely on intelligent, data-driven tools to understand and build direct relationships with patients.
All these trends significantly impact the patient bill experience; however, my team often hears me say, “The best patient bill is no bill at all.” Patient billing must begin with the best insurance experience—getting the payer information correct, billing the carrier efficiently, and capturing every possible covered cost all goes into this process.
Zotec has developed hugely effective proprietary technology solutions that help decrease deductibles, decrease patient responsibility, and create a better experience with less friction. The impact of these tools on providers is powerful, reducing millions in deductibles for patients and updating hundreds of thousands of insurance records which has led to millions more in collections.
Greater patient understanding leads to greater patient satisfaction, less frustration, and revenue optimization. We’re all patients, and our desire for accurate, convenient, and empathic clinical and bill care can be easily attainable with the right patient financial solutions.