Patients want more options when it comes to healthcare financing, engagement with providers and price transparency, according to results from the Black Book™ 2017 Revenue Cycle Management surveys. The surveys are the result of a research study “designed to trend consumer satisfaction and patient experiences, as well as uncover payment challenges and strategies for provider organizations,” according to a news release.
Black Book™ polled both patients and providers in the second and third quarter 2017 with consumer surveys designed to determine how patient responsibility for medical bills, which has increasingly shifted from employers to patients, is impacting providers’ revenue cycles. The surveys included 2,698 healthcare providers and 850 consumers with high deductible health insurance plans.
Eighty-three percent of providers surveyed plan to address the increase in “patient consumerism” by offering more “retail-like technology solutions and practices.” “Emerging healthcare pay trends reveal the opportunity to help patients better anticipate, manage and track the costs of their care,” Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book™ said in the news release. “Innovative patient-friendly payment solutions that meet consumer preferences and enable fast transactions are playing a key role in this transition.”
Since 2015, according to Black Book’s™ findings, patients experienced a 29.4 percent jump in their deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. The average deductible for consumers in 2017 was $1,820 and out-of-pocket costs increased to more than $4,400. With consumers’ increased costs and rising unpaid medical bills, healthcare providers are turning to new strategies and technologies to recover those funds.
“Survey findings from 1,595 physician practices, 202 hospitals and 49 health systems reveal profit margins continue to be impacted negatively by traditional collection solutions, steering 82 percent of medical providers and 92 percent of hospitals to jettison time-intensive, error-prone, manual efforts to back end process and reconcile bills by Q4 2018,” according to the news release.
The surveys also show consumers prefer to pay their bills online. In the first half of 2017, nearly 62 percent of medical bills were paid online and 95 percent of those surveyed said they would use that option if available from their healthcare provider, according to the news release. “Employing these solutions at the front end of the revenue cycle has given patient risk to providers and the attention has turned to establishing funding mechanisms to benefit not only the hospital or physician, but the consumer,” Brown said. “Patients truly are the new payers.”
Additional key findings in the surveys include:
*Eighty-nine percent of provider financial administrators expect that healthcare payments will be made on phones and mobile devices by the fourth quarter 2018, however only 20 percent have the systems in place for electronic payments.
*Eighty-three percent of offices with under five physicians report “the slow payment of high-deductible plan patients are their top collection challenge, followed by the difficulties that practice staff have at communicating patient payment accountability (81 percent).”
*Patient payment services in high demand, according to healthcare providers, are transparency via cost estimation, managing consumer expectations through insurance eligibility verification before an appointment and enhancements to make payments more convenient for patients.