We see it all the time, a patient visits their doctor’s office to seek treatment and then receives a bill in the mail for their portion of the medical expenses. When a patient receives the bill, they are often alarmed at the amount that is due and may not have the funding to pay the balance in full. In a recent study conducted by UCLA, it is estimated that there is $140 billion in medical debt that has been reported on credit reports (VeryWellHealth, 2021). In fact, this research study found that one in every five consumers was already in collections prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As cases of COVID-19 increased in 2020, many consumers feared visiting their doctor’s office that they avoided their routine office visits, and/or lost their employment further impacting a patient’s ability to pay for any medical expenses. As providers continued to keep their offices open, many providers witnessed a decrease in patient volume while also seeing a reduction in revenue. According to a recent article published in Medical Economics (2021), 55% of practices were impacted by a decrease in revenue while 60% were impacted by a decrease in overall patient volume. Combined with the number of patients that were already in medical debt and/or collections, many practices faced a financial crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to become more stable in early 2021, many patients felt comfortable returning to visit their doctor and/or were able to secure employment, providing patients with employer-sponsored insurance coverage. With the current rise of COVID-19 cases increasing again, practices are left with the ongoing challenges of attempting to maximize revenue collection with the risk of history repeating itself and the patient’s inability to pay their medical bills or avoiding their office visits.
Contrary to belief, consumers actually want to pay their medical bills and are seeking more payment options. According to the 2020 Trends in Healthcare Annual Report, providers and consumers must adapt to a new payment experience in order to enhance how they interact with one another. In addition, more than half of consumers would consider changing their provider for a better payment experience. One may ask, what constitutes a better payment experience? Consumers are showing a higher demand for contactless payments and the ability to work with their providers to create a payment plan or auto-payment options. Unfortunately, many providers have not adapted to their consumer’s needs and continue to operate with traditional methods creating dissatisfaction amongst their consumers
How can providers change their operations to facilitate a more consumer-friendly experience for their patients? Front-office staff play a pivotal role when interacting with patients and should be collecting up-to-date contact information to ensure patients are communicated with effectively, have the most recent insurance data to avoid any processing delays, and should collect a patient’s consent ahead of time for new features such as eBills, texting, and payment preferences. EZ Claim customers can streamline their revenue collection opportunities by partnering with BillFlash for innovative billing opportunities and various payment collection features that consumers highly desire. While nobody can predict if this recent wave of COVID-19 cases will lead to another quarantine phase or not, it is important for providers and consumers to enhance how they interact with one another to create solutions for healthcare needs.
For more information about automated patient statements and patient payment options, contact EZClaim, NexTrust BillFlash, GetPaid@BillFlash.com, or call BillFlash at 435.940.9123 (Option 3). For more details about EZClaim’s medical billing software, visit their website, e-mail their support team, or call them at 877.650.0904.
Hui, K. (2021). Americans owe $140 billion in medical debt. Here’s how to avoid it. Very Well Health. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/medical-debt-medicaid-study-5194846
InstaMed (2021). The Trends in Healthcare Payments (11th Annual Report) 2020. Retrieved from https://www.instamed.com/white-papers/trends-in-healthcare-payments-annual-report/
Luz, M. (2021). How an effective revenue cycle management strategy can help reduce burnout. Medical Economics. Retrieved from https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/how-an-effective-revenue-cycle-management-strategy-can-help-reduce-burnout