Patients noticed the dramatic transformation of the healthcare payments landscape even before most of them had ever heard of COVID-19, according to a survey of healthcare consumers and executives. In fact, 23 percent of patients said they experienced a change in how and when they’re asked for payment by a provider over the past two years.
The world has certainly changed since U.S. Bank conducted the 2020 Healthcare Payments Insight Survey Report in January. Since that time, the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, placing healthcare professionals on the front line of a relentless battle, limiting some clinical services and moving telehealth to the forefront. Yet in this rapidly changing environment, insights into perceptions of the healthcare payments system and patient experience gleaned from this survey seem increasingly relevant.
Knowing the complexities of the industry, and its commitment to caring for customers, U.S. Bank sought to understand how payment methods fit into these overall themes in healthcare. The report provides unique insights by surveying patients and healthcare information technology (HIT) company executives to gather both perspectives and better understand strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.
In this year’s survey, we discovered affordability remains a key concern for healthcare consumers. The majority are taking steps to learn about medical costs ahead of time, which explains why the number of patients who have been surprised by a high medical bill fell from 59 percent in 2019 to 40 percent this year.
When confronted with a higher healthcare bill than they expected, more than half set up a payment plan or applied for financing with the provider. Yet when faced with a high price quote, 27 percent chose to delay or cancel services. Offering payment plan options – and making them better known to patients – may make an impact on these decisions.
The survey found a majority of providers now ask for a minimum payment or co-pay at the time of service (65 percent), leading to a noticeable change for consumers. This year, 64 percent report paying at the provider’s office, compared to 25 percent just one year earlier.
Paid at the Provider’s Office
Regarding their remaining balances, more than three-quarters pay either before or after receiving just one bill. However, the remaining patients wait for two to three bills (18 percent) or even more (four percent) before they start to pay. It’s a situation that affects providers’ finances and can ultimately impact their ability to provide treatment.
Payment solutions are a very important part of a tech company’s revenue, and keeping up with the evolution of payments will be essential to any HIT company’s success. The survey identified a number of areas where HIT companies strive to mirror patient and provider needs.
Looking ahead, HIT company professionals point to payments through non-financial services firms, peer-to-peer payments, contactless payments and mobile apps as likely to be adopted by the healthcare industry in the next five years. Nearly a third say self-service payment options are the single greatest opportunity to make further improvements in patient financial engagement in the next five years.
The healthcare consumer survey is based on a national sample of 447 adults, 26 years of age or older, living in 43 different states. The healthcare information technology survey is based on a sample of 171 HIT executives.
We hope this year’s report offers insights to help you further improve the financial experience for you, your staff and your patients. As always, our goal is to help your organization simplify, accelerate and improve your revenue cycle so you can continue to thrive in the communities you serve. We are here to help.