Treating patients as consumers — the key to improving revenue cycle health

With an increase in high deductible plans, access to mobile healthcare and more transparency into price and quality, patients are more in charge of their health and are shouldering greater financial responsibility for the care they receive.

Patients are becoming the healthcare industry's largest payers, with more than 51 percent having a health plan with a deductible of more than $1,000, according to Carrie Moneymaker, vice president of solution design at Zotec Partners. This makes collecting patient payments vital to the hospital's bottom line. At Becker's Hospital Review 3rd Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago, Ms. Moneymaker presented a way for hospitals to collect patient payments and retain a functional revenue cycle — treating the patient as a consumer.

"It's especially important for healthcare providers to recognize that patients should now be viewed as the consumer. They search the web for this care and the price of this care…We are no longer business to business. We are consumer to business," Ms. Moneymaker said.

Ms. Moneymaker suggested that providers establish a patient portal that allows patients to access their data at all times to allow patients to set up payment plans, place a credit card on file for easy payment and print their statements. Providers should also educate patients early on about upfront payments and their health savings account, set expectations that the service requires payment, strive to have the best customer service and create policies and procedures that are always followed, Ms. Moneymaker added.

In addition, since patients take an average of two times longer than insurers to pay their bills and require more touch points, Ms. Moneymaker said mobile technology such as texting will be a key transforming agent in the future healthcare climate.

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