A New Look at the Modern Patient Experience

September 2, 2021

Today’s healthcare system involves confusing pricing, varied copay structures, and volumes of paperwork. But only a few decades ago, the patient experience was far more straightforward. 

As the years went on, the healthcare system got more complex. Insurance options, payment nuances, and provider care drastically changed. As the system became more complicated, the patient experience followed suit. 

Now, as technology innovations continue to transform the consumer experience across industries, healthcare consumers want to see a change in that space. They expect a healthcare experience more like retail — accessible, understandable, and easily navigable. 

But for that to happen, certain issues need to be overcome. 

The Trouble With a Lack of Transparency in Healthcare 

Generally, patients want three things from their healthcare providers: care, compassion, and clarity. They want to have confidence that they are receiving high-quality care with compassion that can help them navigate even the hardest situations. They also seek clarity and transparency throughout the process — especially when it comes to understanding their bills and how to pay them. 

Unfortunately, many folks find that these wishes go unfulfilled. They might stay on hold on the phone, be repeatedly transferred to different departments every time they have a question, or struggle to find information on a provider’s website. This is all indicative of a prevalent lack of transparency in healthcare. People become frustrated with the bureaucracy surrounding medical services and insurance, unexpectedly high deductibles, cumbersome scheduling and appointment experiences, and harried healthcare providers. In the end, they feel uninformed and without control. 

When consumer expectations in healthcare go unmet, patients become resentful of and uncomfortable with the entire system. They start to fear going to the doctor or asking themselves whether it’s worth the hassle. “I’m healthy enough,” they think. “Do I really need my checkup this year?” “I don’t even know how much I would have to pay to get this checked out — I’m sure it will heal on its own.” The system is cumbersome and confusing, but avoiding care cannot and should not be the answer to health problems. 

What does this mean for the future of healthcare? It’s probably time for some change. 

The Implications of an Overly Complicated System 

Without a line of sight into what they can expect from medical visits — especially when it comes to payment — patients have become somewhat wary and distrustful of the healthcare system. 

This pervasive dissatisfaction could lead to many long-term problems. For one, it means the patient experience could continue to deteriorate. The more dissatisfied patients become, the more disenchanted they feel with the healthcare system. That creates a widening gap that providers must then address to “win” back the favor of even the most loyal patients. 

Fear or frustration with appointment scheduling and payment processes can also dissuade patients from seeking preventive care. Avoiding even a few checkups can lead to harrowing complications down the road, with chronic health conditions potentially going undetected and worsening. Considering 90% of the nation’s $3.8 billion spent in healthcare goes toward treating chronic conditions, it’s easy to see how those costs ultimately add up and stress the entire healthcare system. 

Consider obesity, a condition that can often be treated with preventive attention. Obesity affects 19% of children and 42% of adults in the United States, putting them at risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. If patients had gotten the preventive care they needed and followed the recommendations of their physicians, they could have staved off the onset of their conditions and prevented chronic complications. An intervention in someone’s 20s, for instance, could have helped them avoid a lifetime of diabetes medication. In short, the complication of the healthcare system poses a threat to our overall health. 

Meeting Consumer Expectations in Healthcare 

When scheduling doctors’ appointments, patients expect the same ease of experience they would get with any other digital service. When patients can schedule a dog-sitter, order delivery from their favorite restaurant, or book a nail appointment with the swipe of a smartphone app, they expect the same from their healthcare providers. According to research by NTT DATA Services, 59% of patients expect retail-style experiences with healthcare. They want their healthcare systems to be straightforward and streamlined like their online shopping or banking experiences — and are 64% more likely to switch to new providers if they feel theirs aren’t up to par. 

This is where solutions like Zotec’s Patient Bill Care can help. Patient Bill Care helps keep patient solutions virtually seamless through every part of the journey, from making an appointment all the way to a bill’s due date. The key is keeping the process personalized, easy, empathetic, and secure — exactly what patients expect of other consumer-focused digital experiences. 

Most importantly, Patient Bill Care fulfills a core need: helping bridge the transparency gap that has so drastically hampered the patient experience. It gives patients a clear idea of what their bill will be from start to finish, distinguishing it from other options that give only standard copay information and percentages with generalized “we’ll send you the final bill” messaging. Instead of leaving patients with virtually no understanding of what they will owe, we emphasize and prioritize price transparency in healthcare. This is particularly relevant in light of the recently passed No Surprises Act, which restricts any surprise billing that results in excessive out-of-pocket costs. 

With deductibles increasing by 111% over the past 11 years, patients are hurting. They need extra time and resources to handle these hefty bills. Because Patient Bill Care provides a cost estimate from the start, it empowers patients to take control of their healthcare, understand what they will be expected to pay for services, and plan for the cost burden of healthcare. 

Superior Patient Solutions 

To facilitate this level of digital user experience and put into place the requisite solutions on the back end, Zotec continues to request and apply feedback from patients. We hear over and over that they prioritize convenience, choices, and control. We strive to integrate all three of those aspects into our offerings to help patients understand and be engaged with every nuance of the healthcare process. 

When patients sign up on the platform, they share their demographics, insurance information, and eligibility information. This data gets stored in the system, though the patient must first grant permission. When those patients return to schedule another appointment, the system remembers their information and skips them having to reenter anything. With the touch of a screen, they can manage appointments, review appointment summaries, make payments, and download a calendar. Best of all, they can get a cost estimate ahead of any appointments. That means fewer lengthy phone calls or hold times, a reduced chance of forgetting an appointment, and no ambiguity around pricing. 

Once they arrive for their appointments, patients can check in and out via the system — as well as access provider services and documentation on their portal. They spend less time sitting in the waiting room and are in control of their health, staying organized thanks to our digitized document vault. 

Further, we have patient personas that help patients based on their specific profiles and needs. Someone who needs a payment plan can find targeted help for that particular issue. A patient who wants to know their insurance costs or how much they owe can easily access that information. 

Patient Bill Care is truly comprehensive, giving patients the transparent, frictionless, end-to-end experience they seek. Informed patients can take more ownership of their healthcare, feeling empowered at every stage of their journeys. 

An Improved Provider Experience 

The benefits of Patient Bill Care don’t stop with patients — improving the patient experience also helps providers. With Patient Bill Care, providers can count on a set revenue cycle, collect time of service data, and analyze and report on their operations. The streamlined scheduling and data collection features help foster physician productivity and lead to a stronger, more cohesive patient experience. 

For example, traditional check-in and check-out procedures might have been so stressful for the administrative staff on top of their other tasks that everything was managed via a clipboard, pen, and “arrival time” column. With Patient Bill Care, all of this data is saved in the system. That means providers can track exactly when patients arrived, the length of their wait time and appointment, and other metrics that can inform their operational and staffing decisions. 

Furthermore, a streamlined financial process saves providers time — meaning they can devote more attention to patient needs, questions, and concerns. The result is a superior patient experience. The more providers optimize for consumer expectations in healthcare, the more they will improve and streamline the revenue management cycle in healthcare. 

We never stop innovating for patients or providers. We even put a specific team to work for all providers to help understand their revenue cycle management needs, which helps us optimize their outcomes. 

Bridging the Transparency Gap 

Healthcare providers today must find ways to give patients clear, frictionless experiences, redefine patient bill processing, and update systems and processes to meet patient expectations in the digital age. Part of this involves implementing and integrating digital solutions that increase access and ease of use for patients. 

At Zotec, we firmly believe patient and provider experiences improve when providers embrace patient care solutions. Setting patients up for success from both a health and financial management standpoint pays dividends on both ends of the spectrum. 

We are proud to offer Patient Bill Care for many reasons. Through easier task completion for patients, enhanced transparency around cost, and quicker and more streamlined payment processes for both parties, patients regain the time, control, and clarity that has been missing in healthcare. And if they have any questions along the way, our Patient Bill Care specialists are available to help them navigate the healthcare system. 

Consumer expectations in healthcare are higher than ever. By bridging the gap between patients and providers, we work to change the healthcare system for the better and create stronger relationships. As the industry leader in the comprehensive patient experience, Zotec is committed to transforming patient and provider experiences.  

The more we can bring patients and providers together in a united and transparent experience, the better the outcome for everyone. If you’re ready to talk more about how Zotec and Patient Bill Care can help you offer more value and a stronger patient experience, schedule a free consultation with our team.