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Updated by 11.24.2023
Healthcare Payment Trends Worth Watching
Attention, healthcare providers: It’s time for a checkup or a check-in to examine the latest healthcare payment trends. After all, providers that do monitor these trends periodically and, if necessary, write themselves a new payment processing “prescription” stand to see the best outcomes in terms of patient satisfaction and the bottom line.
1. Healthcare Providers Are Still Behind the Times When It Comes to Digitalizing the Payment Experience and Consumers Aren’t Happy About It
A survey conducted by research firm Survata revealed that three out of four consumers (74 percent) still receive medical bills via paper-based methods, rather than via electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) technology or through a web portal.
However, other research shows that healthcare providers need to move towards “digital health” not only when it comes to conducting virtual visits, but also when it comes to the way they handle patient billing and payment acceptance for example, introducing EBPP and web payments. For some healthcare providers especially those that cater to a primarily younger patient base, adding text-based and mobile payments may make sense, too.
Here’s proof: A study by InstaMed, a J.P. Morgan company, shows that 91 percent of consumers prefer to pay their medical bills electronically. Moreover, of the 70 percent of study participants who reported that they receive paper bills for medical care, a mere nine percent want to pay those bills with a check.
Similarly, according to InstaMed, 74 percent of consumers prefer online payments for medical bills, and 85 percent of millennials would download and use a mobile app to handle their medical expenses. And even more telling, 50 percent of consumers queried for the Survata study reported being “frustrated” that their healthcare provider had not yet adopted “digital administrative processes,” including online bill pay and mobile or email bill delivery.
2. Failure to Go Digital Is Costing Healthcare Providers Patients or Has Already Led to Patient Attrition. It Is Also Becoming a Catalyst for Non-Payment
Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of millennials who participated in the InstaMed study said they would “switch providers for a better healthcare payments experience”. Forty-one percent of individuals interviewed by Survata said they would stop going to their healthcare provider over a poor digital experience, including a lack of digital payment options, and 20 percent of study participants noted that they have already done so. Approximately 20 percent of patients have written a negative review of a healthcare provider following a poor digital experience. Twenty-five percent of consumers conceded to having abandoned a payment to a healthcare provider because there was no option other than a check to complete it.
Not surprisingly, healthcare entities that treat younger patient populations suffer the worst consequences of providing “bad digital experiences”, including limited digital payment experiences. Survata found that patients aged 18 to 24 are three times (61 percent) more likely than those aged 65 and older to consider switching healthcare providers because of a negative digital experience. Moreover, patients in the younger age group are four times as likely (29 percent) to have already found a new healthcare provider due to a poor digital experience compared to their over-65 counterparts.
3. In Consumers’ Minds, Digital Payments Are Here to Stay
Healthcare providers that are, for any reason, thinking about moving away from any digital payment options they may have introduced during the pandemic should reconsider their strategy. According to the InstaMed study, 65 percent of consumers “want to keep using virtual and self-service options offered for healthcare payments due to the pandemic” once the latter has subsided or has, as many predict, become endemic.
4. Patients Expect a Digital Payment Experience that Is as Simple and Straightforward as the Retail Payment Experience
Recent years have seen patients incur more out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. Consequently, they want to be viewed as customers and, accordingly, treated to the same fast, convenient, easy payment experience they enjoy in the retail channel, note analysts from NTT Data. Of consumers queried for an NTT Data survey, 60 percent noted such an expectation.
Additionally, in many consumers’ minds, a healthcare payment experience that mirrors the retail payment experience includes the opportunity to use stored payment data to pay medical bills in a few clicks. Allowing patients to do so can pay off for healthcare providers in higher percentages of payment and a faster collection speed, analysts point out.
Another healthcare payment “perk” analysts say is gaining in popularity at a time when healthcare is growing ever more “consumerized”: the option to pay for care ahead of appointments. This not only boosts the likelihood that patients will keep their appointments; it also bolsters patient engagement not only in their own care but with their healthcare provider. The end result: a higher rate of patient retention.
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