Apple Pay, Venmo: How patients prefer to settle the bill

It's no secret that patients are dissatisfied with dated healthcare payment systems. But that discontent is growing, according to a recent report

The 2023 "Patient Payment Technology Report" from American Express and Salucro Healthcare Solutions, a Tempe, Ariz.-based technology company, features insights from 1,514 healthcare consumers surveyed over the summer. Respondents were between 26 and 65 years old with annual incomes ranging from $25,000 to $200,000. All attested to paying a healthcare bill in the past 18 months. 

Their insights suggest festering frustration with the billing and payment process. In 2019, 53% of respondents said the system was "great," and they had no trouble with payments; only 43% said the same in 2023. The number of patients who call the system "awful, a huge pain and very confusing" rose 4 percentage points in the past year alone. 

This year, 68% of patients say they have had a negative experience with a past or present provider — and 38% say they've left a negative review due to a poor billing or payment experience, up from 27% in 2022. 

Patients' biggest concerns — incorrect or confusing charges, a difficult and unorganized process and limited self-service options — may be addressed by alternative, flexible payment methods. And healthcare CFOs are increasingly curious about tech-driven solutions to improve the payment experience, according to a recent study from U.S. Bank. 

Survey respondents were asked, "If the flexibility was offered, what type of payment options would you utilize?" and could choose all options that apply to them. These were their top picks:

1. Credit or debit card, including HSA/FSA (70%)

2 (tie). PayPal (33%)

2 (tie). A flexible recurring payment plan (33%)

4. Cash (31%)

5. Check (27%)

6. Contactless payments, such as tap-to-pay (22%)

7 (tie). Venmo (20%)

7 (tie). Digital wallets, such as Apple Pay (20%)

9. ACH (17%)

10. A healthcare-specific third-party financing option (16%)

11. Text-to-pay (8%)

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