Healthcare Consumerism and the Future of Patient Pay: Three Takeaways
Consumer out-of-pocket spending for all types of healthcare services is estimated to hit just under $492 billion by the end of 2021, still down from $540 billion in consumer out-of-pocket spending pre-pandemic. It’s clear consumers still are delaying care. If there is to be financial recovery in 2022, how should healthcare providers position themselves to attract consumers? What are consumer expectations for how they pay their portion of care?
In a recent episode of the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity (NAHRI) podcast, Laurie Heavey, SVP, Product & Strategic Marketing at ClearBalance HealthCare®, sat down with Henri Cattier and David Stievater, partners at CWH Advisors, to discuss healthcare consumer payment trends. Throughout the conversation they discussed findings from their patient pay study, co-sponsored by ClearBalance, and dug into what consumers are really looking for in their patient financial experience. Here are three takeaways from the conversation:
Takeaway #1: A patient- and consumer-centric focus is table stakes
Patient financial literacy remains a long-standing challenge that can’t be overlooked. Providers have made strides during the last few years with price transparency and self-service cost-estimation tools, both of which are regarded as table stakes when it comes to patient financial engagement. As providers shift focus to upfront collections, anticipating – and answering –consumer questions about their cost of care will help ensure greater willingness to pay some portion before care.
Takeaway #2: Millennials are key to a patient pay strategy
According to survey data, the Millennial cohort is a vital component to an organization’s patient pay strategy. Rather than racking up credit card debt, many of the Millennial survey participants prefer to pay for goods and services with debit, long-term payment plans and fintech-enabled point of sale financing solutions.
Takeaway #3: Make it easy and convenient
Retail payment techniques such as QR codes to pay and text-to-pay are increasingly making their way into healthcare. It’s important that healthcare providers find ways to embrace these tactics, while preserving safety and security protocols. A silver lining of the pandemic is that providers began using contactless registration tools, which can be extended to online quick payments and to set up long-term payment plans.
As with any business, consumer satisfaction can be marred by a negative experience. Providers that continue to push the envelope when it comes to the patient financial experience, will be rewarded with loyalty.
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