How Value-Based Care Is Impacting Standard Patient Pay Practices

Value-based care is all about doing what’s best for the patient and promoting better outcomes. This method of care uses patient well-being as a guide for payment, rather than the number of procedures or drugs prescribed. It represents a shift from a fee-for-service to a fee-for-performance model.

It’s already impacting how providers create at-home care plans, conduct treatment follow-ups and manage their quality care levels. Additionally, this industry shift is affecting the admissions process and patient pay procedures, emphasizing the need to best serve patients during the entire treatment cycle.

Here are three ways value-based care is causing providers to rethink standard payment practices.

Providers can (and should) make patient pay easy

When was the last time you visited an establishment that didn’t take credit cards? Or, as is the case with airlines, a place that refused to take cash? Offering limited payment options is inconvenient and often stressful for consumers. The same is true for patients, who increasingly are adopting a consumer-like mindset about their healthcare.

Part of caring for your patients means making the payment process easier to navigate. Not only should you strive to offer several options at the point of service, but also make off-site options available, including online payment portals and automated, recurring payment plans. Allow them to conduct business their way, on their schedule, even if it’s in the middle of the night. Life isn’t limited to business hours; patient pay options shouldn’t be either.

How the payment process affects patient care

It’s a safe assumption that when your attention is pulled in multiple directions, you’re not approaching every task with peak efficiency. Though patient care is always a top priority, billing and other administrative tasks still need to be done to keep things running smoothly.

That is where automation, like that offered by ABILITY SECUREPAY®, can transform how your organization operates.

Automation tools offer business office features to help you post, refund, manage and track payments, saving everyone time and frustration. With the administrative burden lifted, your staff is able to be present, focused and provide better patient care.

Patient experience and outcomes matter

The overall patient experience extends far beyond in-person interaction. No matter how attentive and responsive you are to patients when they receive care, their journey is only beginning. They are left to wonder if their treatment is going to work and how long it might take, as well as how much it’s going to cost.

Anxiety caused by rising co-pays can also cause patients to delay seeking treatment in the first place, possibly allowing their condition to worsen.

Providers who make any part of a patient’s experience easier, faster or less stressful are going to provide better outcomes and encourage patient loyalty.

Providing excellent patient care means more than just scheduling check-ups and following a treatment plan. It also includes things like not making them wait and wonder if their payment will post on time, or when their refund will arrive. Automated patient pay tools can save you time that would be better spent helping patients understand all of the available payment options, so they can select the method they are most comfortable with.

How a Few Simple Patient Pay Improvements Transform the Treatment Experience

Patient treatment begins the second a new patient makes an appointment. It continues as they interact with admissions staff, billers, care providers and specialists. No matter who they’re communicating with, patients need to know your team has their best interest in mind.

As a result, it’s your responsibility to enhance the standard treatment experience. You must find ways to make treatment not just effective, but also as personal and enjoyable as possible. Advanced patient pay practices can help. They turn an experience that is sometimes stressful, confusing and outright intimidating for patients into a much more manageable, satisfactory aspect of treatment.

Here are three patient pay improvements that can significantly enhance your patients’ treatment experience.

1.    Offer a convenient way to pay

When was the last time you used cash to pay for groceries, gas or your home electric bill? If you’re like most consumers, you probably prefer to use your credit or debit card, or maybe a mobile payment app, when making everyday purchases.

Your patients are also accustomed to using modern forms of payment, and many of them see these methods as a more convenient, easy-to-use alternative than cash or check. This presents a key opportunity to enhance the treatment experience by implementing an advanced payment system like ABILITY SECUREPAY®.

Give patients the option to pay for their medical services the same way they pay for other goods. Show them that you’re focused on meeting their needs in every possible way. Then, watch as patient satisfaction increases – and, potentially, as A/R days for patient payments decrease. When patients are able to use a credit card to pay online or over the phone at their convenience, they’re more likely to pay on time as opposed to when they’re limited to using other methods.

2.    Let patients pay for services over time rather than all at once

A recent study found 64 percent of patients delay or skip care because of costs – leading to even more costly care situations. These may include:

  • Emergency room visits
  • Increased hospital readmissions
  • Unfavorable treatment outcomes (causing the need for repeat/additional treatment)

While money isn’t the only reason patients hesitate to seek treatment, it is a significant concern for many. This is why payment plans are so valuable. They make treatment more accessible and ease the fear or anxiety often associated with payments. And with an increasing rate of patient payment responsibility, the more you can do to help patients manage their payments, the better off their health (and your bottom line) will be.

3.    Give patients the option to set up recurring payments

If patients do decide to sign up for a payment plan, make it even more manageable for them by offering automated recurring payments. Just like paying for home utilities or a phone bill, recurring payments for medical services can simplify and enhance the patient experience. They give patients one less thing to worry about, allowing them to focus on the at-home care plan you’ve provided for them, the medication they need to take, or the lifestyle changes they’re working on.

Just as your team manages claims and payments to increase organizational financial performance, your patients make personal finance decisions every day – some more difficult than others. Make the decision for them to seek treatment and pay for services an easy one. Support their payment process by implementing advanced patient pay practices to enhance their entire treatment experience.

patient education

How to Better Educate Patients About Their Coverage Rights and Payment Responsibilities

Many healthcare consumers experience confusion and stress regarding their insurance coverage and payment responsibilities. They often have questions about when payments are due, how much they’re expected to pay and why their insurance doesn’t cover a certain treatment.

This can deter patients from seeking treatment at all. It can also cause patients to stop treatment before their condition has been resolved, and those who do continue treatment will become disengaged if their confusion and stress aren’t addressed.

Fortunately, all of this can be prevented with better patient education. If you’ve recently had a patient stop treatment due to payment issues or lack of engagement, consider how well you’re explaining treatments – and the associated eligibility requirements and payment responsibilities.

To keep patients informed at the start of and during treatment, use the tips shared below.

Effective patient education methods

Patient education is an ongoing process and a team effort. From front of house staff who schedule appointments and handle patient payments to those who provide patient care, all employees should be dedicated to offering the best patient education possible.

To help your staff do this, consider implementing some of the following patient education strategies:

  • Offer transparent pricing
  • Create flexible payment plans
  • Disclose if a treatment may not be covered by insurance

Additionally, stress the importance of correcting any misinformation a patient may have about their treatment. If their insurance doesn’t cover a procedure that is deemed necessary by their physician, explain the disconnect as well as you can, and discuss other payment options or procedure alternatives.

The connection between patient education and engagement

Patient education and engagement tend to have a direct relationship. When a patient feels well-informed about their eligibility and payment responsibilities, they typically take more ownership in the process and stay up to date with payments.

But when a patient feels like they haven’t been given the proper information, the opposite occurs. They may pay their medical bills, but they may pay late or not in full.

More importantly, the patient experience suffers. While they try to sort out coverages and out-of-pocket expenses, their treatment can be delayed. Their condition could change or worsen, requiring a new treatment plan, and in turn, a change in eligibility, coverage or payments required. If the burden becomes too great, they may find another provider or stop treatment altogether.

patient experience

4 Unique Ways to Enhance the Patient Experience in Your Organization

No matter how advanced medical tools and treatments become, human interactions will continue to play an integral role in healthcare. Patients will still need real people to provide eye exams, at-home care, mental health services and everything in between. Technology can make these things more accessible and easier to manage, but it can’t replace personal care.

This doesn’t mean pat­ient care will continue to be what it always has been, though. As new advancements make the role of medical professionals more efficient, it becomes the responsibility of providers to offer more than basic medical services. They now have to focus on enhancing the patient experience in every step of the care cycle.

Here are four things you can start doing within your organization to take the patient experience to the next level.

1. Treat people, not medical conditions

As much as patients want to find solutions to their medical problems, they also want to feel heard and empowered whenever they seek treatment. They’re taking ownership of their healing process, not looking for a band-aid solution.

This means your staff needs to make more time to listen and express genuine concern. Try to explain conditions and treatments a little more in-depth than you normally do and make it a point to show interest in patients beyond their health. Talk to them about their families and their hobbies. Remember their birthday and congratulate them on life accomplishments they may mention. Strive to be a friend and a medical professional, not just a signature on a prescription.

2. Give patients the maximum value for their healthcare dollars

Patients can Google one-size-fits-all answers. They’ve become accustomed to self-assessing their conditions and even treating certain health issues on their own without seeking any professional treatment.

When they do make a medical appointment, they’re looking for in-depth information. They want to know how to prevent the issue they’re currently dealing with from happening again. They want to get to the root of a problem to stay out of the doctor’s office as long as possible.

This may sound like it’s bad for business, but it would actually do you well to adjust to this shift in patient mentality. It can create better brand value and recognition for your organization and lead to more patient recommendations. And since more people are researching different providers before they make an appointment, it’s in your best interest to make a good name for yourself by going above and beyond standard care practices.

Such a strategy will help you capture new patients as they shop around for medical care and keep current ones coming back when they need more than at-home treatment.

3. Simplify patient payments

Patients have enough trouble understanding their insurance coverage; they don’t need to experience more financial stress when paying the fees they’re responsible for. Thankfully, you can make this payment process much easier on them by offering online bill pay options, like ABILITY SECUREPAY™. Instead of limiting patient payments to cash or check only, online methods give healthcare consumers the access they need to stay on top of payments. They allow people to conveniently pay for their medical services via a simple, easy-to-use portal. They also provide the option to save credit/debit card information for future payments and set up automatic payments.

4. Continue the conversation

Whether your patients come in regularly, every few months or sporadically, you should be continuing the conversation with them beyond one visit. Specifically, focus on providing better post-visit instructions in terms of medications to take and suggested lifestyle changes.

You can also use post-visit interactions to gain insight from your patients about what you can do better. A simple survey asking patients to rate your performance and provide feedback can do wonders for your organization. It helps you understand their needs/desires at a deeper level and catch things that may have slipped through the cracks in your workflow or staff training.

At the end of the day, the more you put into the patient experience, the more your organization benefits. It’s time to change the way you think about your duties as a medical provider and go beyond what you’ve ever done before.

revenue cycle management

Not Sure How Patient Pay Trends Are Changing? Find Out Here!

The smaller the gap between when you render services and when you get paid, the better. With so many potential blockers in your revenue cycle, though, it can be a big challenge to keep things moving.

Between communicating with payers, working through denied claims, and managing the payments that patients are responsible for, it’s hard to get a clear idea of when each expected payment will come through. Not to mention, you must also pay attention to the way payment processes are evolving!

This is a big factor in the revenue cycle that far too many medical providers don’t consider. It’s not enough to stay on top of the claims you’re filing today; you need to start thinking about how changing patient pay trends will affect your A/R cycle tomorrow.

Here are 3 major shifts in patient payment trends you need to be aware of.

1. Patients in some cases are more scared of their bills than their diagnosis

It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s true. High-deductible health plans are increasing their rates, and the changes to deductibles, co-pays and coverage causes confusion for patients, along with an increase in patient financial responsibility.

Add the fact that 28.9 million Americans are uninsured, and it’s no surprise patients are becoming increasingly concerned about how to pay for services.

So, what can you do? Make payments more manageable for your patients.

Explore the option of in-house patient payment plans rather than leaving patients on their own to work things out with payers. This allows you to maintain a strong presence within the growing market of patients who are uninsured or have a high deductible. It gives patients who are concerned about their payments an easy way to manage what they owe and how they’re going to pay. Also consider making payment processes more accessible by establishing a new patient system that helps people understand their eligibility and benefits.

No matter what your job title is, adjusting to changes in patient financial responsibility is tied to your purpose as a medical provider. Contributing to the wellness of your patients means helping them navigate the financial responsibilities associated with their health.

2. Outsourcing medical billing is on the rise

The good news about helping patients understand their payment responsibilities is that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Medical billing outsourcing is one of the smartest things you can do to ease patient payment concerns and better manage your revenue cycle.

The right platform can completely transform how you distribute invoices and process payments. It can give customer-facing personnel the extra few minutes in their day to talk through payments with patients, while also making each patient’s payment responsibility easier to understand.

3. Payment processing has advanced

As you’re looking into medical billing outsourcing possibilities, pay attention to the payment capabilities available. It’s not enough to simply offer cash or check payment options anymore.

Modern-day patients want a modern way to pay. They’re more likely to keep up with payments when they can easily access their medical bills through a credit and debit card-friendly portal. If you can save their payment information, offer automated payments or send out payment reminders, the results would be even better.

These responsibilities are simple to take on and implement on your end, and they make a world of a difference for your patients. They show your patients that you truly care about their experience and well-being, not just about how much you’re billing them and getting paid for.