Automate Patient Estimation at Your Practice

Automate Patient Estimation at Your Practice

Patients are spending more on healthcare than they did in the past. A survey recently showed that people spend an average of $5,000 per person on healthcare annually, which is up 101% since 1980. At the same time, out-of-pocket insurance maximums and deductibles have risen 30% over the past four years. The reality is that even with health insurance, patients are paying more of their healthcare bill than they used to. 

These challenges put medical practices in a difficult position. Practices are challenged with helping patients afford care while keeping their businesses financially stable. One effective tool for striking this difficult balance is automating a price estimate to provide greater transparency and increases patient satisfaction. This automation helps practices deliver upfront details about cost and provide resources and tools to manage difficulty paying, such as flexible payment plans. Understanding the benefits of automatic patient estimation software can help improve the patient experience and cash flow. 

Increase Collections and Improve Cash Flow 

Getting paid is a huge pain point for medical practices. One study found that an average medical practice submitting an average of 83 claims per day collects a little over half of their accounts receivables during the first month. Almost a third of those bills (30%) are ignored during the first submission. Seventy percent of practices report that it takes one month or longer to collect from patients. 

Collecting directly from patients, as opposed to insurance companies, is more expensive for practices. Studies find that it costs practices about four times more to go after patient amounts due versus getting paid from an insurance company. With patients paying a larger portion of their bills than they did in the past, this creates challenges for medical practices.  

A practice that has technology in place to automate patient estimates can increase collections and cash flow by providing greater patient visibility. A quick and accurate upfront price estimate helps people better understand what they owe and can reduce receivables and bad debt. Any questions or disputes about the amount owed are handled earlier in the revenue cycle. Communicating your patient’s healthcare billing responsibility is crucial to make sure they understand what they owe and so that your practice gets paid. 

Improve Patient Financial Visibility 

A surprising number of patients are confused about their medical bills. One study found that 61% of patients said they didn’t understand their medical bill. The survey also found the following:

  • Patients who are confused about their billing are at risk of ignoring their bills. 
  • Poor experiences with medical bills may prevent a patient from seeking additional care. 
  • Nearly half of the patients surveyed (49%) said they were “not sure if the total amount owed was current,” and 48% said the total amount owed was a surprise. 
  • Patients want streamlined communication for understanding health costs. 

Additionally, 9 out of 10 consumers want to know their financial responsibility up front. Improving patient visibility allows you to quickly give a patient access to an estimation of their out-of-pocket expenses. If they can’t afford the cost or if they question the billing statement, those concerns are addressed upfront at the point of service. 

Provide Comprehensive Solutions 

Automated patient estimates are a powerful tool for practices. A fully integrated solution that includes this tool and additional options can help meet patients where they’re at and truly understand their payment needs. For example, once a patient fully understands the amount due, they might not have funds to pay it. Flexible financing options that allow customized payment plans offer people a solution that meets their needs and helps practices get paid faster. Keep in mind that not all patient estimation software is created the same, so make sure you research your options.

A complete solution also allows people to pay for health services using the technology that they already know and enjoy, such as mobile payments. For example, patients can pay from their mobile devices. You can send a customized text or email message where patients are presented with the option to pay now or enroll in a facility-approved payment plan. Point-of-sale technologies allow you to safely store and use patient payment accounts to handle balances owed after health insurance adjudication. 

Build Stronger Patient Relationships 

The healthcare industry is rapidly changing, and keeping up with these changes requires implementing patient-focused technologies. Truly understanding patients and their pain points, many of which revolve around cost and the ability to pay for care, is a good starting point. By implementing tools that ease those burdens, not only do you develop stronger patient satisfaction and more meaningful relationships, but you promote referrals as well. Satisfied patients will feel more compelled to refer their friends and family, which promotes growth and success in the future.