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.
Patients Turned Consumers
As with other consumer-driven markets, healthcare consumers have grown to expect a certain type of experience–one that caters to their needs and offers a variety of choices. 75% of consumers consider their healthcare decisions to be the most important and expensive decisions they make, and they actively seek out providers that are engaging and efficient in handling the financial side of care.
Because of the rise in costs and the shift towards a consumer-centric care model, the patient financial experience now begins well before a patient actually receives care. Consumers are researching hospitals and health systems before making a decision, looking at online reviews and ratings, quality of care, and cost information.
In order for healthcare organizations to stand out among the competition and maintain a strong bottom line, they must prioritize enhancing the patient financial experience.
The Importance of Transparency
The meteoric rise in patient responsibility has consumers demanding price transparency and clarity of information from healthcare organizations. 92% of consumers want to know payment responsibility prior to a provider visit, and 62% of patients indicated that knowing their out-of-pocket costs in advance impacted the likelihood of pursuing treatment. By being transparent about what patients owe, patients gain a better understanding of their financial responsibility and will be more engaged in the payment process throughout their healthcare journey.
Explanation of benefits, price transparency, and clear information regarding financial obligations empower patients to pay their medical bills and take charge of their health and wellness, leading to a more positive experience.
Healthcare Provider Responsibility
Operating from a patient-centric perspective enables providers to boost consumer satisfaction, which ultimately results in improved patient retention and increased revenue. It is the responsibility of hospitals and healthcare systems to implement new methods and systems to simplify the patient payment experience.
In addition to offering price transparency, healthcare providers must also be available to answer patient questions and discuss payment options. 77% of people say it is “important” to “very important” to understand costs prior to receiving care, and with a growing number of patients delaying care due to cost, conversation and clarity are critical. Upfront communication about billing and out-of-pocket costs lets patients focus on their health at the time of treatment and beyond.
In order for healthcare providers to maximize efficiency and convenience for consumers, they need to go digital. Convenience has become the new currency in the healthcare market, and the majority of consumers are already well-versed in digital financial management. 68% of consumers prefer electronic payment methods to pay their medical bills, yet 86% of consumers receive paper medical bills. Moving the patient payment process to an easy-to-use, readily accessible online portal helps encourage patients to pay their medical bills.
Partnering with a third-party patient financing company provides healthcare organizations with expert systems and technologies to assist patients in the payment process. Card-on-file, mobile pay, and text/email payment reminders are effective tools that consumers are already familiar with from other industries. In addition to convenience and accessibility, implementing an online patient portal allows provider RCM staff to unload the burden and cost of manual collections.
The state of healthcare is an everchanging, always-evolving landscape. In most recent years, healthcare consumerism has actively pushed the healthcare market to be patient-driven, requiring healthcare systems to rethink how they approach and deliver care, both from a clinical and a financial standpoint. Fortunately, BridgeMed offers healthcare providers a solution to enhance the patient experience while streamlining the revenue cycle. To learn more about BridgeMed and how it benefits both patients and providers, visit www.mybridgemed.com.