Consumer needs have changed. While there was a call for price transparency and a solution to surprise medical bills prior to COVID-19, the answer to these two demands are now imperative for both health systems’ finances and patients’ overall health. According to Kaufman Hall’s latest report, health systems are continuing to see volumes drop. July was the fifth consecutive month that saw volumes fall below 2019 performance and below budget.
In parallel, 68% of patients fear they are unable to pay for medical expenses this year. More so, high-income earners are more likely to delay surgeries and diagnostic procedures than low-income earners, a recent AccessOne survey found. To help address these issues, a dialogue between healthcare providers and patients will be necessary.
Heighten transparency prior to any procedure
Communicate with the patient prior to their surgery and discuss their out-of-pocket cost estimate. This will help avoid any confusion down the line and patients feel prepared and safe going into their appointment. If they worry an out-of-pocket network professional will be in the surgery room, encourage the patient to share this concern with their physician prior to the procedure.
Engage patients in financial discussions early
Patients who do not feel financially prepared for a medical procedure are more likely to postpone care. By proactively discussing cost estimates and affordable payment options with patients prior to care, hospitals ensure patients receive necessary medical care while protecting the organization’s financial health.
Assist patients in managing their costs of care
For those patients who need assistance in paying their bills, but they do not qualify for charity care, offer affordable payment options such as payment plans. These payment plans should include flexible payment terms that range from zero to low-interest in order to help adapt to the patient’s unique financial situation. In fact, 69% of millennials and Gen Xers desire low-interest or no-interest payment plans to fulfill their financial responsibility for healthcare, a recent survey shows.
Create a seamless patient financial experience
Patients need transparency now more than ever. Be consistent with your messaging by regularly training staff and provide a single point of contact for patients when they do have questions.
Now more than ever, patients need to feel secure in their health and financial wellbeing. By adopting the four approaches above, hospitals will ease the stress of seeking necessary care. As a result, health systems see a stronger financial bottom line and greater patient satisfaction and loyalty.