How COVID-19 transformed healthcare payments
By Tyler Eppley, Vice President, Head of Healthcare Payments, U.S. Bank
The pandemic brought about profound changes in the healthcare industry, for patients and providers alike. Based on a 2021 U.S. Bank survey of healthcare consumers, the biggest change we’re seeing is accelerated patient demand for digitization.
Today’s patients want quicker, easier and more convenient ways to access and pay for care. With digitization, faster payment collection and a better patient financial experience are possible.
Here, we break down the top ways COVID-19 is driving patient expectations for digital payment options and what that means for providers.
Impact of COVID-19 on the patient experience
Today’s patients are excited about the opportunity to meet with their healthcare team virtually. Over the last year, most consumers used telehealth, and of those, the majority want to see it expanded going forward.
Not only are patients comfortable discussing health concerns online or via phone, but over half of those are also open to resolving billing questions through live text or video chat. This can free up staff from time spent responding to queries in person or following up on past-due bills.
Evolving the in-office experience
With COVID-19 bringing germ threats to the forefront, prioritizing hygiene is key to easing patient fears. This means focusing on cleaner, safer ways to do everything from signing in to paying for a visit.
Because we found that over three-quarters of patients are worried about payment device cleanliness, providers would do well to offer contactless options. This includes contactless debit and credit, pay by text, email, mobile app, online portal, QR codes and more.
Patient payment experience and expectations
With COVID-19 impacting everything from our sense of personal safety to household finances, patient payment preferences are evolving. Contactless is the number one payment option patients want, as it helps them feel safer during in-person transactions.
Meanwhile, affordability continues to be an issue as job losses and insurance coverages have been affected. This may be why more patients are looking for options that allow them to manage healthcare expenses, such as recurring bill payments and prompt-pay discounts. Providers who adapt to offer this flexibility can increase patient satisfaction and improve cashflow.
Opportunities for improvement and innovation
While many providers have evolved significantly during the last year, there is always room for improvement. One way to do this is by optimizing digital payment methods to make it faster and simpler for patients to find information — such as how much they owe and when it is due — and pay their bills.
Currently, the top digital payment methods patients want their providers to optimize are patient portals, mobile apps and contactless mobile wallets.
Healthcare providers can ensure they’re keeping up with the latest features and capabilities by working with a payment processing partner that prioritizes seamless, secure and innovative solutions.
To learn more about how the pandemic is transforming healthcare payments and patient expectations, check out the full results from our survey in our 2021 Healthcare Payments Insight Report.