Physicians work hard to build trust with patients by providing a high level of care. Apart from the clinical side of the patient experience, the financial aspect plays an important role in the experience as well. In the past, when a patient furnished their insurance card, both the practice and the patient had an understanding of who would pay for care. But the reality today is that even if a person has health insurance, the cost of co-pays or high deductibles can be a large financial burden.
Nearly half of Americans (44 percent) report they could not come up with $400 in the event of an emergency without using credit cards, borrowing from family and friends, or selling possessions. A recent poll found that 55 percent of those surveyed claimed they had received at least one medical bill they couldn’t afford to pay. Furthermore, estimates suggest that there are 137 million people in the United States who are struggling to pay medical bills.
At the same time, chronic health conditions are on the rise, with 40 percent of the U.S. population struggling with at least one chronic health condition. Americans need access to healthcare more than ever, but they also need a way to pay for that care. Personalized payment solutions are helping to close that gap by providing patients with flexible payment options that can be customized to meet individual needs.
Emphasizing The Demand For Digital Tools
Physicians operate in a different environment from that of even a decade ago. The patients who visit your practice are accustomed to getting media and various services on demand and available within seconds. They order groceries and receive those items within hours. They shop online with more personalized and engaging experiences than ever. People want to feel truly known by every business they interact with – including their doctor’s office.
One large aspect of delivering these experiences is flexible patient payment options. Patients want to pay through mobile devices, such as their smartphones or tablets. They want to set up payment plans if they can’t pay the full balance right now – and they want to automate payments when appropriate. The benefits of offering these types of capabilities are important to both patient and practice.
The Need For Personalized Pay Options
A recent study conducted by Deloitte focused on what mattered most in creating positive health experiences. The survey, which included 1,787 respondents, asked consumers about 64 different interactions with healthcare providers and analyzed the data. The most important element was “personalized experiences with doctors and other healthcare providers.”
In the past, a one-size-fits-all payment option may have been offered to patients. But today’s patients want more – they want customization. Personalized payment options allow people to select payment plans based on their unique circumstances. As a result, they feel truly known and supported by the practice.
How Personalized Payment Plans Can Benefit Patients
Simplification is the backbone of a streamlined customer experience. How can you give the patient a more customized interaction, but do so with fewer steps and frustrations? Presenting a variety of payment options using a streamlined platform provides many patient benefits, including the following:
Patients feel empowered. Nothing feels worse than having a bill that you can’t afford to pay. One patient might have a high deductible that needs to be met before insurance will start paying, while another patient might have no insurance at all. Providing patients with the ability to select payment options that meet their individualized circumstances empowers them to feel in control of their experience.
Inclusiveness is provided through the right financing options. Practices serve a wide range of patient populations, and some of those patients might have credit challenges. By working with an innovative technology partner that is inclusive and accepts 100 percent of patients into payment plans, patients can feel greater security and confidence that they can pay their bills.
Streamlined billing technology and payment processes are delivered. Not all patients need payment plans. For those who are ready to pay their bill, payment options should be streamlined. Options that allow people to use the devices they already know and enjoy, such as smartphones or tablets, to pay bills allow for positive experiences. Practices can also send a customized text or email message that allows customers to instantly pay off balances.
Access to automated options. Patients lead busy lives, and many are opting to “automate” their finances. This type of patient doesn’t want to pay bills manually but instead wants to leave a credit card on file that can be used to pay bills after insurance payments are received.
Adopting technologies that allow for personalized payments enables practices to improve customer experiences and deliver seamless, frictionless experiences to patients. A technology solution that provides these benefits gives practices the ability to collect payments faster, increase cash flow, and grow the bottom line through greater patient loyalty.
Reaping The Benefits of Customized Payment Solutions
Collecting payments is a major pain point for many practices. According to 2018 data compiled by MedData, 83 percent of physician practices reported that their top collection challenge was slow payment along with high-deductible-plan patients.
A personalized payment solution allows practices to capture more outstanding revenue. Research shows that practices that offer more payment options have a better chance of getting paid. Personalizing payment options has the ability to increase patient collections by up to 200 percent.
The ideal payment solution fits with a variety of patient scenarios. For example, imagine that a patient gets a text message that allows them to pay for services instantly on their smartphone, but the patient owes a large balance and can’t pay the bill in full. The text message also offers the ability to set up a payment plan, selecting the terms that work best for the patient’s situation. Having this option quickly eases the person’s stress and creates a more positive experience.
What to Look For in a Personalized Payment Solution
A practice might understand the benefits of personalized payment solutions, such as improved cash flow and increasing patient satisfaction – but what should you look for in the right solution? Here are a few things to consider when shopping for new technology to better serve your patients:
Allows patients to finance care. Find out if a potential solution allows patients the ability to finance care, and if so, if customized options are available. Look for a solution that provides the greatest customization possible for the patient.
Provides mobile payment capabilities. Most of your patients have a smartphone, and many of these patients want to use it to pay for services. Find a solution that provides the option to send a customized text or email message that allows patients to pay immediately – or to enroll in a facility-approved payment plan.
Presents automated settlement options. People don’t want to provide a credit card at every office visit. They want more simplified and streamlined experiences. Seek a solution that allows you to safely and securely store patient billing information to pay balances.
Enables recurring payments and subscription health plans. In some situations, a patient has a series of treatments coming up, and it’s easier to set up recurring payments to cover those balances. Look for a solution that enables this situation and provides weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly options to customize the payment experience.
Integrates easily. Select a solution that integrates seamlessly with your practice management system to avoid unexpected challenges or slowdowns in the process.
Working with a provider that offers these customizations, in addition to providing excellent customer service to your patients, is critical to improving the patient experience. You want the technology to work as an extension of your organization, with a commitment to quality and compassion.
Moving Into The Future
The expectations of your patients are fast-changing. Practices working to thrive in the future need to start focusing on how to improve the patient experience and technology interactions. What is the patient experience like in your practice today? And how can you improve it? Knowing that more patients are struggling to pay medical bills is a serious consideration for making these improvements.
The right technology allows you to meet your patients where they’re at today and provide solutions that feel customized to their circumstances. Are they having difficulty paying for care? No problem – the patient can enroll in an easy payment plan. Can they pay for care, but just don’t want to hassle with slow patient payment options? In this case, you can provide technologies such as mobile payments to speed up that transaction. The goal is to provide a variety of solutions so patients can self-select to find the one that’s right for their situation.