There’s a unique dichotomy in healthcare that’s not found in other service industries. For example, when you go out to eat at a restaurant, you don’t expect the server to ask you to pay before the meal is served. Conversely, you also don’t expect to walk out of the restaurant after the meal without paying.
However, if you have ever ordered the special of the day and been shocked when the check arrives and the item costs twice as much as other menu items, you can certainly understand the patient’s viewpoint. How can a patient make informed choices about his or her healthcare without knowing the cost?
Price transparency – one of today’s hottest healthcare topics – offers significant benefits to both providers and patients, including:
- Empowering the patient to make well-informed decisions on healthcare treatments
- Improving patient satisfaction and involvement with their care management
- Allowing appropriate upfront collections based on realistic estimates
- Serving as a foundation for establishing payment plans or seeking charity
The difficulty of providing a reliable estimate has hindered efforts to collect from patients at the point of service, when they are most likely to pay. In order for the estimate to be relevant and timely, it must bring together financial data from the chargemaster, claims history and payer contract terms, and integrate that with the patient’s insurance benefits.
Thankfully, this is a task that is ideally suited to technology. Not only can you use a payment estimator to quickly and easily create a targeted estimate, healthcare organizations can also eliminate the need to manually update price lists, as well as remove guesswork and tedious searches through potentially outdated patient information.
An estimator is the base of an effective upfront collections strategy, and is complemented by the ability to determine if a patient is eligible for charity care in addition to their propensity to pay. An additional complement is to streamline the payment process by facilitating the collection of patient open balances through eChecking, signature debit, credit, recurring billing, cash, check or money orders.
The ability to create price transparency that is applicable to each patient’s individual situation is critical to a healthcare organization’s financial performance.