Nearly 50% of consumers are one sickness away from serious financial trouble and nearly 80% of healthcare providers are unable to collect balances of more than $1,000 in at least 30 days, according to the results of an annual report released recently by InstaMed. The study illustrates the paradox that exists in the healthcare industry today that both sides of the patient-practice experience are being squeezed.
The data for the InstaMed report was aggregated well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States, and that crisis is likely to only exacerbate the issues facing both patients and providers. Millions of individuals nationwide have lost their job and their health insurance while many healthcare practices are on the verge of closing because people are staying home and hospitals have canceled elective procedures.
For patients and providers, the financial disconnect starts as soon as the patient walks through the door of a facility, according to the InstaMed report. Forty-nine percent of providers are not aware of a patient’s payment responsibility during the visit, and 89% of patients want to know their payment responsibility up front, which creates confusion and uncertainty right from the get-go. From there, it becomes a race to collect. Three-quarters of providers say it takes more than a month to collect on debts. And about 90% of providers rely on paper and manual processes to collect on unpaid bills. Taking advantage of electronic options and technology to collect and stay in touch with patients is not something that has been embraced by providers, even though patients are clamoring for more options, especially those that are tied to their smartphones. Sixty-two percent of providers do not yet offer automatic payments, and 65% are not interested in offering financing options.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that there are inefficiencies in the physician-patient relationship and opportunities to close the gap between the two. It will be difficult for either side to do anything to help bring themselves closer together as both face severe issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. To help manage their revenue cycles better and accelerate collections, healthcare providers should be looking to leverage relationships with partners that specialize in that side of the transaction.
If we have learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it is that we need to come together and work together, and it is in that model that we will succeed. We are here to answer the questions that providers have and to help them improve their cash flow at a time when every dollar counts.
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