Patient Payments Crystal Ball with Rajesh Voddiraju: Predictions for 2019

AdobeStock_110110232Ah, the beginning of a new year. It’s a time to look back and do some self-reflection on what worked for you and what didn’t in 2018. A new year presents the opportunity to make a change for the better (who doesn’t love that?). And of course, it’s a time of predictions and hopes for the coming year. Wondering what’s next for your patient revenue cycle? Let’s consult our resident expert, Rajesh Voddiraju, on his 2019 patient revenue cycle and patient payment  forecast. He dusted off his famed “patient revenue cycle crystal ball” once again in order to provide the following insights.

Expect to See More AI and RPA

We’ve posted on this topic before, but it bears repeating as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline back-end practice tasks such as insurance eligibility and patient demographic checks, patient payment posting, and appointment reminders will become increasingly common. Widespread adoption of these technologies is expected to free up more time for interpersonal contact with patients, creating a better, more satisfying patient experience.

Providers Will Make More Strategic, Data-Driven Choices

According to Forbes’ historically highly accurate healthcare industry predictions, the future of the healthcare industry will be increasingly driven by data, both the “Big Data” we know and love, and the less well-known specialty-specific “small data.” According to Forbes columnist Reenita Das, “by end of 2019, 50% of all healthcare companies will have resources dedicated to accessing, sharing, and analyzing real-world evidence for use across their organizations.”

While much of this data will be used to make better clinical decisions, healthcare providers are also expected to increase use of tools that collect and assess financial data in order to find leaks, optimize patient payments, and create better and more efficient patient payment experiences.

Alternative Payment Models on the Rise

In October 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement with 1,500 hospitals and physician groups signing up in the first month. Experts say this is a strong indication that bundled payments will pull ahead in the payment model race for all types of patients with all types of insurance coverage. As far as the overall trend, a recent analysis from the Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network (HCP-LAN) found that 34% of health care dollars flowed through alternative payment models (APM) last year—a 17% increase over the previous year and a 50% jump from 2015. Bundled patient payments are a popular APM choice because they reduce costs without compromising on quality of care.

Commercial uptake of alternative payment models, particularly bundled payments, is admittedly slower than on the governmental end, but is steadily rising and will continue to do so as the healthcare industry transitions to value-based care.

Providers Will Work Harder to Communicate Patient Financial Responsibility

Medical providers are finally starting to perk up their ears at the mention of healthcare price transparency and its positive correlation to optimizing patient payments. As it has been said on our blog before, “If you tell them, they will pay.” Patients who are told about their healthcare financial obligations are not only more likely to pay their bill, but also report higher levels of patient satisfaction and are more likely to stay loyal to their provider and recommend their provider to friends.

We can expect to see better availability of cost information, and also better communication on the part of the provider. Instead of expecting patients to figure out their explanation of benefits for themselves, some providers are already having proactive discussions with patients about costs, and the adoption of tools and technologies that aid patient understanding of financial obligations are beginning to rise. 

Speaking of reflection—how’s your patient revenue cycle performing? Are you collecting patient payments at a comfortable rate? Are your patients informed and engaged? If you answered “no” to either of these questions, schedule a demo of the Health iPASS patient revenue cycle solution. For more information on how future trends will affect your revenue cycle and  what you can do about it, download our most recent webinar, Getting Paid from Patients in 2019: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why the Status Quo is No Longer an Option

Oh-- and Happy New Year!