A large disconnect remains between healthcare providers and patients when it comes to the financial side of their relationship, according to the results of a recently released survey, which details how providers can do a better job of meeting their patients’ expectations before, during, and after visits to a doctor’s office or hospital.
The survey, conducted by Patientco, a financial engagement platform, showed that people are skipping treatment because of how much it costs, that patients are not getting estimates before visits to the doctor or hospital, and the ones who do provide estimates don’t use electronic channels, that patients are not being notified about financial assistance policies, and that people don’t understand the medical bills they receive. Healthcare affordability is not something that only affects individuals with lower incomes, either, according to the results of the survey. Nearly half of the respondents said they would be unable to pay a medical bill of more than $500, and two-thirds said they would be unable to pay a bill that exceeded $1,000.
“Since the start of the pandemic, healthcare has been under constant pressure to adapt in order to keep their communities safe and healthy – whether that’s through expanding telehealth or swiftly rolling out vaccine programs,” said Bird Blitch, CEO and co-founder of Patientco, in a statement. “As our annual report shows, we can’t let the positive progress revert to the status quo as the threat of COVID-19 is contained. We must look critically at the systems we have in place to ensure patients are no longer hesitant to receive care – whether due to COVID-19 or cost concerns – to ensure entire communities can thrive and reach their full health potential while our health systems stay funded. In this scenario, everyone wins.”
While the data in the study is not necessarily anything that companies involved in revenue cycle management or healthcare collections haven’t seen or heard before, it is important to review the data to see that there are issues at just about every stage in the billing process, from providing estimates beforehand to collecting the money afterward. Digital engagement offers a lot of opportunity to close the gap that exists between healthcare providers and patients, and everyone should be taking closer looks at how they engage with patients to make sure they understand their responsibilities and obligations and are able to make informed decisions with respect to all of the options that are available to them.