Improving patient experience through affordable financing options
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Samaritan Health Services provides compassionate, innovative and quality healthcare throughout its network of five hospitals and 80 physician offices serving 250,000 patients in the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon Coast.
Through its multiple health facilities, Samaritan serves a diverse population encompassing young and old individuals across multiple socioeconomic brackets.
While Samaritan was a pioneer in offering an outsourced patient financing program with varying term loans and interest rates, a steady increase in patients on high-deductible health plans necessitated a more robust, flexible and engaging billing and finance solution for patients.
Over the past decade, Samaritan Health Services has had a rare view of the changing fortunes, not just clinical but financial, of many patients.
While the vast majority of patients have health insurance, high deductible health plans (HDHPs) can call for deductibles as high as $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families annually, per recent national figures. Most patients can’t afford to pay medical expenses at these levels outright — and require financial assistance or payment plans to pay them off at all.
At Samaritan, the number of hospital patients who used financing nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014, while those using it for physician bills surged by one-third. From 2013 to 2016 alone, deductibles rose 151 percent while copayments grew by 104 percent among Samaritan’s populations.
Samaritan’s primary goal in working with AccessOne was to enhance the patient’s experience in seeking out the best and most flexible financing opportunities for all patients, regardless of their situation.
Samaritan has used AccessOne since 2007, partnering early on to develop a patient financing option. Most recently Samaritan leveraged AccessOne’s platform as the backbone for two new financing programs: 1) a credit line at no interest for 24 months, and 2) a credit line up to 60 months for those who need longer terms. This implementation curtailed much of the back-and-forth negotiation between administrative staff and patients trying to seek out a mutually agreeable plan.
Also, as a growing number of patients are gravitating toward more convenient technology solutions —nearly 67 percent are portal users, and one out of three patients receive e-statements, for example — the AccessOne platform enabled electronic payments through an easy-to-use interface, and offered other applications to encourage prompt pay.
Offering affordable payment plans that work best for our patients and their families helps deliver an overall excellent patient experience.
Vice President of Operations
Since leveraging AccessOne to offer patients financing plans, adults of all ages have accessed financing, with no one age group dominating. In 2016, people in their 50s were the largest group of account holders, at 23 percent. Other age segments followed closely behind: Millennials aged 18 to 29 and GenXers in their 40s each represented 19 percent of program participants while those in their 30s were 18 percent of all enrollees.
Also Samaritan found that patients are paying their bills much faster. The program saw a sharp drop in the time it took patients to pay their balances, from 14 months in 2012 to 9 months in 2016. The decline in payment time for hospital patients using the longer-term program has been more dramatic: In 2012, it took an average of 33 months to clear the balance. In 2016, patients paid off their balances in 9 months.