Memorial Hermann exec: Consumers expect convenient bill pay — It's time for healthcare to catch up

Many industries have consumer-friendly, convenient payment methods and healthcare needs to catch up, said David Bradshaw, executive vice president, chief strategy officer and CIO of Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System.

At Becker's Hospital Review's 9th Annual Meeting on April 11 in Chicago, Mr. Bradshaw explained some of the challenges hospitals face while collecting bills as the shift to patient consumerism hastens. He also discussed a digitally-based solution, Simplee, that improved patient satisfaction and bill collection across Memorial Hermann.

When it comes to the patient financial experience, the challenge is recognizing that a majority of patients lack the financial resources to afford to pay a medical bill in full. Research shows about 50 percent of patients that come through a hospital walk out with at least a $1,000 bill for the medical visit. Further, about two in three households cannot pay an emergency expense of about $1,000 with their savings accounts, explained Mr. Bradshaw.

With those statistics, medical bills are competing with other mandatory monthly payments such as mortgages, car payments or rent, Mr. Bradshaw added.

However, the challenge isn't just affordability. Consumers have come to expect convenience when it comes to paying bills and the healthcare industry isn't immune to this expectation.

At Memorial Hermann, Mr. Bradshaw and his team are rolling out the Simplee platform that uses analytics to help tackle two major challenges to the patient financial experience.

The first component of the Simplee solution is offering monthly, personalized payment plans based on a patient's capacity to pay the medical bill.  These payment plans appear as options on the paper bill, an email bill and on Memorial Hermann's online, consumer-friendly patient platform. The second component includes how these payment plans are derived.  The payment plans are derived from a score based on several factors, including demographics, credit scores, prior medical visit history, and more, to deliver the best payment plan option for these individuals.

The Simplee solution has lowered leakage on small bills and increased adoption of high bills, while also improving patient satisfaction, boosting net promoter scores and helping to establish differentiation in the marketplace.

"We've had a lot of success. Especially when we start to see what our patients say to us … [which includes] 'wow this was easier,' [and] 'finally you're acting more like a retail organization' and as a result, we're creating some differentiation in the market … Just by making this task of bill pay a little more convenient," Mr. Bradshaw said.

To learn more about the Simplee platform, click here

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