While healthcare is generally considered to be more resilient than many other industries during economic downturns, it is not completely recession-proof. During times of economic uncertainty, hospitals and health systems struggle to maintain cash flow. At the end of 2022, 50% of US hospitals had a negative operating margin, and 30% of rural hospitals faced the risk of closing in the near or immediate future. The added strain of rising costs of labor, supplies, and services also have a negative impact on the healthcare industry.
As healthcare continues to become a more consumer-driven industry, price transparency has become one of the most important elements for consumers navigating the patient financial journey. Improving clarity and accessibility surrounding healthcare costs allows consumers to make more informed decisions and engage in the billing process. New legislation rolled out over the last two years calls on insurers and healthcare providers to disclose the costs of each item and service they provide.
A recent finding from Cedar's Healthcare Consumer Experience Study revealed that over 90% of healthcare consumers say the quality of their billing experience impacts their decision to return to the provider for future care. With the rise of healthcare consumerism, patient expectations are evolving. Medical billing and payment processes continue to be a source of stress and confusion for patients, leading to lost revenue and poor patient loyalty for health providers. As hospitals and health systems become increasingly reliant on patient receivables to maintain their bottom line, they need to engage patients in the payment process and promote a positive patient experience. In order to maximize patient loyalty and retention, healthcare providers must prioritize clarity and convenience throughout the patient financial journey.
With the rise of high deductible healthcare plans and out-of-pocket costs, providers and patients are becoming more concerned with the financial component of healthcare. Increased patient responsibility calls for increased patient education on the payment process in order to improve patient collections as well as patient satisfaction. By focusing on increasing patient financial health literacy–which is defined as one's ability to navigate healthcare billing and financial responsibility–healthcare consumers will be more aware of the payment process, and therefore be more empowered to make payments.
Healthcare consumerism, brought on by high-deductible healthcare plans and rising out of pocket costs, has significantly affected how Americans approach care. In the last 10 years, the cost of uncompensated care has more than doubled, and the average health insurance premium has increased by over 50 percent. Because of this, consumers are more selective along their healthcare journey, researching providers and often prioritizing cost over quality of care. Factors such as insurance coverage, employment status, geographic location, and of course, income, all weigh heavily on if and where Americans choose to pursue care. Today's patients are seeking transparency, flexibility, and accessibility from their healthcare providers. In order to maintain a strong bottom line and patient retention, health systems must acknowledge the pain points surrounding the administrative and financial side of care.
Contactless checkout and digital billing methods are on the rise in the healthcare industry. The COVID-19 pandemic combined with growing healthcare consumerism has Americans searching for healthcare experiences that prioritize safety, convenience, and flexibility. Consumers have grown accustomed to digitized payment in other retail industries and expect a similar experience in healthcare. In fact, 56% of consumers would consider switching healthcare providers for a better payment experience. Features like mobile pay, auto-pay, and online patient portals are emerging in healthcare, and have been shown to enhance patient engagement along the financial journey. As healthcare providers know, a positive patient experience is crucial in maintaining patient retention and a strong bottom line. Here are three ways contactless checkout can benefit both patients and providers:
According to a report on the social determinants of health from the World Health Organization, health equity is defined as “the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically”. In other words, health equity exists when everyone has a fair and unbiased opportunity to pursue and receive healthcare. Health inequity is not a new issue for Americans–for centuries, individuals have had to battle against the many social determinants of health. While many of the determinants are not easily changed or mitigated, there are ways to increase access to healthcare through administrative action, education, and innovation.
Geisinger, a Pennsylvania-based healthcare system has partnered with PayZen, the technology partner of BridgeMed*, to launch an artificial intelligence-backed financing solution for patients. Any patient whose financial responsibility exceeds $250 is eligible to enroll in a personalized payment plan.
Four things to know:
The Rise of Healthcare Consumerism
Healthcare consumerism is best defined as the personal choice and responsibility in paying for and managing one's own health. Stemming from the rise of high deductible healthcare plans and value-based healthcare, healthcare consumerism has shifted the purchasing power and decision-making to the patient, putting the patient in control of their health, as well as the out-of-pocket costs associated with care. As patients become more autonomous in the healthcare market, their expectations and needs are forcing healthcare providers to respond with innovative tools and resources to support them along their healthcare journey.
The ever-evolving healthcare landscape has caused patients to adopt a consumeristic approach in choosing when and where to receive care, leading healthcare providers to find simple yet innovative ways to accommodate patients and secure their bottom line. With 56% of consumers unable to pay a medical bill over $1000, streamlining the patient financial experience is becoming increasingly more important–both for patients and for healthcare organizations.