It’s Time to Change Healthcare Billing

It’s time to recognize that the healthcare billing experience is a critical part of the overall patient experience.

[Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Beth Griffin. Griffin has over 30 years of experience in financial services and healthcare payments in a variety of leadership roles.]

A revolution in the way we approach healthcare billing is needed. Consumers are confused. In fact, 61% of respondents rated their medical bills as confusing or very confusing, according to Mad*Pow research. And 56% of them said they hesitate to get care because of billing confusion.

Imagine spending the day shopping at the mall. You purchase clothing from several stores, buy lunch at the mall restaurant and grab coffee from the kiosk to keep you going. Now, imagine if each merchant sent you a bill, even if you used one credit card for all your purchases. That’s similar to how patients are billed in most of today’s health systems. Add health insurance to the mix and it’s even more complicated.

Our goal is to get people to into the doctor for preventive care, but their healthcare billing experience is so bad that they don’t want to go back. As leaders in the health industry, we need to do better. And the good news is that a solution exists. A new approach to healthcare billing gives consumers a welcomed break from confusing healthcare bills, but it also helps health systems get more consistent payments. But most importantly, it gives patients one less roadblock stopping them from going to the doctor.

Here’s five billing changes that will make all the difference. And they’re not that different from how your credit card company already works.

  • A simple bill design. Healthcare bills should be free of jargon. Consumers should be able to easily locate the information that is most relevant to them, like when the payment is due, how much it is and ways to pay.
  • A consolidated bill. Reduce the amount of paperwork a patient receives from providers and insurers. Deliver one monthly statement for an entire family that includes both EOB and patient invoice data, eliminating the need to send separate EOBs and physicians’ statements.
  • One bill collector. Part of consolidating the healthcare bill is having a point of contact for the consumer. If you have one bill, you have one place collecting payments, troubleshooting patient concerns and giving patients a better experience.
  • Easy account access. With all the ways people are using technology today, they should be able to have easy access through their computers, phones or smart devices to review their account and pay their bills. Gone are the days of wondering if you have a healthcare bill you haven’t paid. If there’s one source with easy access, it’s easier to help keep track of your bills.
  • Practical payment options. When consumers are faced with a massive bill, giving them a lighted path to the end of the daunting tunnel can mean all the difference in on-time payments. Not all consumers are the same and some need more financial guidance and planning than others. If we help consumers make a plan that works with their income, healthcare systems are more likely to see payments coming through.

Adopting a new billing system that is focused on the consumer’s needs will ultimately save healthcare organizations time and money, and give consumers an experience that won’t send them running away from the doctor until they absolutely need care.

It’s time to recognize that the healthcare billing experience is a critical part of the overall patient experience. It’s time to transform the healthcare billing experience once and for all.

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