One of the most stressful parts of getting healthcare is the payment process. Once insurance is filed, it can take weeks to months to receive a bill that lists your remaining patient responsibility. A patient can completely forget about a bill within a week or two, move on with recovery, and then get a shocking bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars six months later that they had no plan to pay for.
With all of the advances in emerging healthcare technology, medical facilities and insurance companies can enhance patient experiences through improved payment processes. This will make it easier for people to transact the process of paying for their healthcare.
Technology offers us any number of customer care tools that meet the customer where he or she is technologically. There are online portals on healthcare websites, mobile apps for receiving payment information or paying right from your smartphone, and online voice options. Certain innovations in tech that are utilizing more of a curated experience based on people’s interactions will help tailor that experience. This will greatly reduce the stress in medical transactions.
All technology is on the cusp of artificial intelligence (AI). AI can help patients co-define user experience in terms of what’s taking place. The use of AI should theoretically yield a more efficient way in which consumers can pay in healthcare.
Each of these concerns is legitimate. A patient recovering from a health care event will recover more quickly if his or her bills and options for paying are fully automated, explained by billing professionals, and supplemented by artificial intelligence.
Ease of engagement
When you make it easier for patients to access not only their payment options, but also their health care costs from various providers, it is easier for patients to get a sense of where their dollars are going. Transparency platforms are the newest phase in data sharing between providers and patients. Reviews of these platforms can help medical administrators find cost savings and identify the most affordable way to care for patients effectively.
There are companies, including ours, that company supplies data to transparency platforms. We should be helping orient people towards safe, high quality, low cost health care regardless of cultural, racial, or other demographic categories. Utilizing tools like transparency platforms gives you the opportunity to make health care operating decisions based on selected criteria and data from patient experiences.
This technology helps engage consumers as the CEO of their own healthcare. These platforms can make a transformative difference in healthcare consumerism by informing patients about how decisions and payments are formulated day to day.
New payment collection platforms that consolidate bills and EOBs provide patients with one, easy-to-understand statement. This helps patients better manage their bills, enhances patient satisfaction, and improve providers’ collections.
Under the premise then educated consumer is a more engaged consumer, why wouldn’t you wish to bring a widely accepted and refined concept like a credit card like statement for healthcare that combines the billing information and the services that have been billed for together in an easy to use statement. This type of service will help relieve the financial stress and strain of receiving health care.
Financial stress in healthcare
Financial stress as part of a health care event can prevent the patient from focusing on getting better. Reducing financial stress will help them. Therefore, they engage and have a better experience that continues past the health care event. As patient satisfaction levels rise, the result will be improved brand affinity. Because integrated payment statements are simpler and they understand them, they are most likely more willing to make payments on time.
Transparency platforms and simpler billing will help health care providers and health insurance companies improve their brand loyalty while strengthening their financial results. More than anything, a patient who is recovering from surgery or a trauma does not want to deal with multiple agencies seeking payment. They also don’t always understand why they are getting multiple bills for a medical procedure.
For example, if a patient has surgery to repair a hernia, the patient will receive bills from the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, the hospital, the laboratory, pathology, and any other peripheral departments that might have participated in the surgery or care following. When a single statement provides all of this information in one place, the patient has a much faster understanding of the costs. If patients have a full understanding of their costs, insurance payments, and remaining obligations, they are far more likely to simply pay the bill. This will significantly decrease the number of bills being sent to collection agencies, the process of which costs the providers more.
For a health care provider, big systems, integrated delivery, specialty and independent providers who offer consumer tools after the health care event show the patients that they are truly involved in not only positive patient outcomes but an easier, more practical way to keep their bills organized and paid on time.
When a patient is able to gain brand affinity through simple processes and outstanding communication, this strengthens relationships between providers, insurance companies, and the patients. It is often said that repeat customers are the lifeblood of any business. Medicine is first a system of healing; but, second, it is a business. In order to provide the best care possible for all patients, the business of medicine must be sound. And AI can be a part of this successful business.
AI in healthcare payment systems
Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more prevalent in all businesses and systems of communication. When a medical provider has a transparency platform and easy to use payment methods, AI can act as a supplemental tool to cut down on unnecessary phone calls to insurance agencies or billing departments.
AI can be used to answer many simple questions, for example, the question “Is there a fee for late payments?” An AI bot can provide a pre-scripted answer that includes all details of this event. Or, the AI can provide contact information, addresses to send payment, information about credit cards, payment plan descriptions, and answer many other questions.
By utilizing these AI systems, insurance companies, collection agencies, and other agents of the healthcare payment system can reduce costs by reducing the number of operators needed in a call center. Not only does this reduce costs in terms of salaries, but the fewer people you need in a call center, the less your business will have to pay out in benefits, turnover, recruiting, and training.
Health technology and easier payment trends will undoubtedly improve relationships between patients, providers, and insurance companies. Patients who receive simpler, easy to understand statements that encompass all physician, laboratory, nursing, hospital, and other costs, as well as an integrated EOB, will be more likely to pay their bills – on time.
Patient stress over financial issues with health care treatment will also be reduced as patients are not waiting to receive multiple statements from multiple agencies, often weeks or months apart. Relieving patient financial stress is critical in their recovery from any health care related incident.
Finally, harnessing the growing application of artificial intelligence in billing practices will reduce operating costs for all agents of the health care system.
These are critical considerations at a time when health care costs are ridiculously high and so many patients are confused by multiple statements with very little detail. The use of transparency platforms, integrated statements, and AI will be a boon to the health care industry as a business.
Terry Rowinski is CEO, Health Payment Systems Inc.Favorite