The healthcare industry is wrestling with how to meet the new needs and expectations of patients as hospitals and health systems begin opening their doors for non-emergency surgeries and diagnostic procedures. To help bring patients in, communication plans are in place to answer to these new expectations. One example is demonstrating how heath systems have established safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which is a top concern for patients nationwide. 

However, there is another essential need that requires immediate attention: a compassionate healthcare financial journey. Sixty-eight percent of consumers are concerned about their ability to pay for medical expenses this year while 67 percent believe the pandemic will affect their household income, according a new survey published in April 2020. Additionally, The New York Times found adults are putting off care because of costs rather than fear of contracting the novel virus. 

Published by Fierce Healthcare, AccessOne CEO Mark Spinner shares how healthcare organizations can meet this new need from patients. It centers around a compassionate approach: 

  1. Screening for financial assistance 
    Reevaluate your financial assistance policies and determine if you can extend these policies to those who have recently lost their jobAs of August 2020, the unemployment rate sits at 8.4 percentaccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
     
  2. Sharing estimated out-of-pocket costs 
    Invest in price estimator tools and share out-of-pocket cost estimates with patients either pre-service or at the point of care. Consumers are more likely to pay in full and on time when they are prepared and feel the hospital is willing to help.
     
  3. Offering a variety of payment options 
    Before COVID-19, 52% of patients believed it was important that hospitals and health systems offer zero to low-interest payment plans that are flexible to their needsBy showing your organization has the tools to help patients succeed financially with their medical bills, you are building a stronger experience that leads to greater loyalty.
     
  4. Keeping an eye out for account delinquenciesand reaching out quickly 
    Be proactive and watch out for any patients that fall behind on their payment plans. If they do, reach out and ask why. Understanding their situation can lead to a tailored solution that exhibits empathy and compassion for the patient.
     
  5. Giving patients a single contact for billing inquiries 
    Any scenario that involves finances can be stressful to consumers. By providing something as simple as a single contact for billing inquiries, you help ease the financial stress and improve their patient experience. 

Patients remember when their healthcare provider was there for them. Providing the clinical and financial support your local communities need will help retain and even strengthen their loyalty overtime. For more details on this approach, click here: Industry Voices—5 ways to show a compassionate approach to patient financing during COVID-19