The Most Important Word in the Patient Payment Process


With all of the factors involved in treating patients and everything encompassed within delivering high-quality healthcare, it may seem almost too reductive to whittle everything down to a single essential word. But while there obviously are many factors to delivering great care that satisfies consumers, there’s one simple word that, if you implement this, can work wonders -- increasing both patient satisfaction and collections.

The most important word in the patient payment process is Transparency.

Today’s consumer doesn’t want to jump through hoops, play games or discover unpleasant subscribers. He or she just wants accurate information, to be helped without hassle.

Statistics reveal these three core truths in the modern patient payment landscape that all tie into the essential nature of transparency for providers aiming to collect effectively.

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Consumers Want Clear Information Up Front

According to InstaMed’s 2015 Trends in Healthcare Payments Report, a whopping 91% of consumers reported that it was important to know payment responsibility prior to a provider visit. Purchasing healthcare should be as simple as a purchase in a grocery store, where patients clearly see what something costs..

Consumers Are Confused by Healthcare Bills

The report found that 76% percent of healthcare consumers were confused by their medical bills, while 77% of consumers reported that they were confused by the Explanation of Benefit they received. To return to the grocery store metaphor, would you buy a gallon of milk if there were pages of paperwork, there might be multiple payers and you aren’t sure what your bill will be like when it comes in a few months? If there’s a single price on the patient responsibility presented simply, it’s easier for patients to understand and to pay.

Consumers Expect an Online Presence

With the ubiquitous nature of internet access and smartphones, today’s plugged-in consumer is online all the time -- so why would we expect a paper payment that’s a long-term commitment? Look toward recurring bills for an indicator of how comfortable consumers are with online payment systems: InstaMed’s survey revealed that 75 percent of consumers pay household bills through an online channel, such as a bank bill pay portal, website or mobile app.

Paying online allows consumers to cover their patient responsibility when it’s convenient to them -- whether it’s at the time of service, when they have enough money on hand to afford it, or after a helpful reminder that they have a due balance. Being in places consumers already are (like in the palms of their hands, or just a click away) removes barriers to payments.

Another benefit of being online is that consumers can do research and find information before, during and after a visit. Since most modern consumers today research options before making a purchase, it’s wise to be forward and clear with any information they’re looking for about your practice or their visit.

Though we went into specifics on consumer expectations for the information and processes they seek, the key takeaway from this post is simple: Provide your patients with greater transparency at any opportunity. Patients are willing to pay if your process is convenient instead of burdensome. If you’re struggling to collect, you haven’t optimized your processes to promote transparency with patients, who just want clarity and simplification whenever possible.