How Practices Can Optimize Patient Cost Estimation Efforts
Today’s patient has high expectations. They expect a lot from their healthcare providers, and are not afraid to share their patient experiences. In today’s world, it’s not enough for companies to meet expectations – they must exceed them. And modern customers have choices when it comes to their health. If they are not satisfied with the care or service rendered, many will quickly make that visit the last and jump to a new provider.
One of the most common reasons a patient may switch healthcare providers revolves around money. With healthcare debt such a prominent issue in the United States (it’s estimated that 23 million people owe more than $250 in healthcare costs), it’s not surprising that money is top of mind for many. Because of this, today’s healthcare consumers expect clear cost estimations for care. Imagine the disconnect that would occur if an actual cost for a service was off by $100. What if the amount varied by $500 or more? As the difference between the estimated cost versus actual cost expands, one can imagine the emotional response a patient may feel when receiving a bill that’s significantly higher than expected. As one would expect, healthcare consumers are very concerned about their finances. Inflation is causing many to cut back on spending, so much so that 98 million Americans skipped medical treatments or passed on their prescription drugs in the first half of 2022, according to a West Health-Gallup poll. Overall, two out of five Americans are struggling to pay for healthcare. The numbers are staggering. As the cost of living and patient responsibility increase, accurate financial estimations are simply a must for all healthcare practices.
Given the financial climate, today’s healthcare consumers are proactive and want to be ahead of their funds. They want to understand costs in advance and know how much to budget for medical expenses. So how can healthcare practices engage patients to meet these demands? It starts with price transparency in healthcare. Giving clear-cut cost estimates for medical care sets patient expectations, and helps to avoid surprises. Providing patients with an easy-to-understand list displaying deductibles, coverage and any out-of-pocket costs at, or, before the time of service is the best practice. Efforts can also be optimized with the right tools and technology. While new regulations like the No Surprise Act may have complicated estimates for the self-pay and uninsured populations, healthcare practices can utilize automation and artificial intelligence when possible. Tools like Cost Estimator from Health iPASS allows healthcare providers to print or email accurate healthcare cost estimates determined by the patient’s insurance, service type and provider, and your clinic’s custom billing codes. The patient then knows exactly what is owed, knows how to budget for their medical expenses, and can opt to pay upfront by making a deposit. For an even more seamless patient experience, it’s imperative that data across healthcare consumer touch points – from paper bills to text-to-pay notifications - reflect the most recent deductibles and balances. Imagine if an emailed medical statement named a different dollar amount compared to the number listed in an online patient portal. All channels that disseminate financial information, whether digital or traditional, should match. When all these efforts merge together seamlessly, it’s expected that patient engagement, loyalty and satisfaction should grow. Additionally, happy patients that are aware of financial expectations are more likely to pay their healthcare bills on time.
By incorporating smart technology that remedies financial expectation uncertainty, it’s likely that more funds will be collected by healthcare providers upfront, days in accounts receivable will decrease, and cost conversion burdens will be removed from front desk staff. When patient cost estimation and patient payment collection processes run smoothly, more time can be allocated to patient care.
If your practice is looking to execute a robust patient cost estimation strategy, Health iPASS can supply the necessary expertise, services and solutions. Schedule a free demo or contact us for more information today.