In a Waystar and HIMSS Analytics study of patients who visited a health care provider in the last year, new trends in price transparency and payments were revealed. In particular, a majority of providers continue to issue paper statements, and cost estimates at time of service reflect improvement in price transparency, according to a news release on the Patient Payment Checkup Survey.
“Our second annual survey reveals that the health care industry is at a tipping point. Patients want to understand their health care expenses given how much they pay out of pocket,” Matthew Hawkins, CEO of Waystar a provider of revenue cycle technologies, said in the news release. “At the same time, providers are looking for ways to increase patient satisfaction and simplify their revenue cycles.”
Key findings from the survey, including over 1,000 patients and approximately 900 financial executives in the health care industry, are: Nearly 100 percent of health care executives report that they bill patients using paper statements, however over half of patients said they would prefer to receive and pay their medical bills electronically.
Eighty-five percent of patients responding to the survey felt the same responsibility to pay for health care as they do other services, however less than 20 percent who have commercial insurance plans found it “easy to understand and convenient to pay for” health care costs. Waystar also finds that cost estimates from their health provider help patients comprehend what they owe. Eighty-six percent of patients who received cost estimates report they understood their payment responsibility, which ultimately helps with faster and easier payment for providers.
However, less than one-third of patients surveyed said they know to ask for a cost estimate at their healthcare provider’s office while 87 percent of health care professionals participating in the survey say that they are able to offer their patients a cost estimate upon request. “The survey indicates a significant difference between patients and their provider organizations in terms of perceived payment timeliness,” Waystar reports.
Nearly half (48 percent) of providers said that it takes their patients over three months to pay the full balance of their bill, versus only 24 percent of patients thinking that it takes them longer than three months to pay their balance. “This perception gap may lie in the timing of payer reimbursement. Patients may believe that they do not owe anything until their payers pay their share,” according to Waystar.
“Our survey reveals that patient consumerism is advancing quickly as organizations adopt advanced payment technology,” Hawkins concludes. “Patients have a higher expectation than they used to have. It is important that lagging health care organizations improve their patient billing and payment methods faster to remain competitive.
Patients are already seeking health care from providers whom they trust with both their health and their pocketbooks. Providers who don’t provide transparency and convenience will be left behind.”
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