Top 4 challenges of obtaining patient payments

Collecting patient payments is a vital component of the healthcare revenue cycle. While there are many factors contributing to the increased difficulty in collecting patient payments, here are the top four reasons, according to PatientEngagementHIT.

1. Lack of price transparency. According to a 2016 Navicure survey 42 percent of healthcare organizations offer a cost estimate for patients, leaving many patients stunned and angry about their medical bills. 

Offering a cost estimate prior to care will allow patients to budget medical expenses and lessen cost ambiguity. 

2. Complicated billing process. A 2016 survey from Poter Research in conjunction with Navicure, found 53 percent of patients needed clarification regarding when their payment was due and 67 percent were unclear if the balance was covered by insurance or an out-of-pocket expense.

Adopting a less complicated payment process and being more transparent with patients regarding charges may help patients maneuver the payment process and lead to higher collection rates.

3. Lack of automated billing. Sixty-two percent of healthcare organizations do not offer electronic credit card payments, 52 percent have no automatic payments and 57 percent only send bills through the mail, according to the Navicure survey.

Automated billing could ease the revenue cycle by speeding up payment as it is convenient to patients, according to the report.

4. Patient inability to afford medical bills. Thirty-one percent of healthcare organizations report substantial issues with patient inability to pay, according to the Navicure survey. Additionally, 40 percent of patients have medical debt, while 25 percent have skipped a treatment for financial reasons.

With rising deductibles creating high out-of-pocket expenses, organizations must work with patients to explore viable payment plans and assess affordable treatment options, according to the report. 

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