Wrap Up – Making Cents of the Patient Factors in Healthcare
In our blog series entitled, “Making CENTS of the Patient Factors in Healthcare”, we reviewed how modern-day health insurance began and how its evolution led to rising healthcare costs and changes in the way healthcare providers support and bill their patients.
In closing out the series, we have summarized the key points we covered, which are summarized below:
In Part 1 – Making CENTS of the Patient Factors in Healthcare
We looked through history and learned:
- How in the 1800’s the standards for acceptable medical practices began to form with the publication of the first physician fee schedule created by a group of 12 physicians in Charlottesville, VA.
- The average cost of medical services has risen on average 5% each year since 1960.
- The US government’s current level of healthcare spending makes it the single largest expense in the world.
In Part 2 – The Rise of Patient Costs
We learned some fun facts. All of which were very tongue and cheek: they relate to why and how patient costs continue to rise, and the impact rising costs have on the industry.
- Two major factors driving the increase in overall healthcare costs are Government Policy & Lifestyle Changes.
- As healthcare costs have skyrocketed so has the patient’s burden of the costs. From 2002 to 2016 patient responsible healthcare expenditures have increased from 10% to over 30%.
- Making matters worse, healthcare costs are increasing at a rate far greater than the increase in annual wages.
- As costs continue to rise at an unaffordable rate many are finding, it is difficult for patients to bear that burden. Our system is seeing an escalation in collection and bankruptcy activity because patients cannot afford their responsibility. These bad debt accounts are causing health systems to continue to increase their costs to deliver care.
In Part 3 – Best Practices for Patient Collections
We summarized the current conditions impacting patient collections:
- One of the most significant impacts seen has been the increase in PBAI, Patient Balance after Insurance.
- From 2012 to 2017 overall PBAI increased from 8% to 12.2%.
- For those commercially insured patients, PBAI increased a staggering 67%.
And we closed with a list of best practices healthcare providers should consider when it comes to patient collections:
- Educate patients about the related costs and payment options in advance
- Collect copays and/or deductibles up front and attempt to collect any outstanding balances
- Verify demographics including contact and insurance policy information
- Make it easier for patients to pay
- Have a written financial policy and communicate that policy to your patients
- Offer reasonable payment terms on larger balances
- Consider engaging a billing/collections company and be sure to answer questions timely to help increase collections
Part 4 – Customer Service and the Ringing Phone in the Medical Practice do Matter
We looked beyond costs and took a few minutes to summarize the importance of customer service, especially as it relates to medical billing and collections. The top five factors that highlight the importance of customer service in a practice were:
- 95% of customers who have a bad experience share it with friends and family
- Customers who experience bad service are 50% more likely to share it online
- 54% of customers who shared a bad experience online shared it 5 times
- 86% of customers who were told of or read about a bad experience report that this information impacted their buying decisions
- Negative information takes 3 seconds to be stored into memory compared to positive information which takes up to 12 seconds
We also provided five tips for improving customer service:
- Focus on meaningful communication that benefits the patient
- Take complaints and concerns seriously and address them quickly
- Put systems in place to provide a safe and positive environment
- Do not leave patients in the dark
- Consider a call center to answer and address patient calls
We closed by summarizing the benefits of answering the phone and why healthcare providers should consider a call center:
- Managing the ringing phone is often not a top priority for those caring for patients
- Getting quality agents can be cumbersome and costly
- Assuring calls are being answered is critical to customer service
- Streamlining the ability to take payments over the phone improves collections
- Providing the ability to help with any insurance issues is essential
- Staying connected to patients creates repeat patients
Part 5 – The Social Media Game – The Good, The Bad, and The Inevitable
In our final segment, we looked at the importance of social media and summarized the key points that make social media essential an inevitable reality for healthcare providers:
- On average Americans have 8 social media accounts (9 accounts for those under the age of 24)
- The Implications for medical providers and the healthcare industry that matters are:
- Awareness – 54% of all patients use social media to search for products and services, including healthcare services. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 41% of patients agree that social media content has an impact on their choice of providers and facilities
- Reputation – 57% of consumers will not use a business that has less than a 4-star rating
- Innovation –There are over 97,000 health-related apps which are downloaded over 4 million times a day. Over 52% of smartphone users research health-related information on their phones.
- Innovators Win!
If you have any questions or need assistance with any revenue cycle issues your practice may be experiencing, please reach out to an MRG representative at 888-818-0563 or visit our website at www.mrgllc.net. Until next time – stay safe and healthy and financially aware!