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Compassionate collections with personalized patient payment plans

November 17, 2023 by Experian Health

As retail and technology companies make moves in healthcare, existing providers must find new ways to attract and retain patients. Offering personalized patient payment plans is one way to meet evolving consumer demands and hold on to the competitive edge. The best part of this strategy? Providers can use data they already hold to deliver convenient and compassionate collections.

Digital disruptors are driving a consumer-centric approach to healthcare payments

Having transformed consumer expectations over the last decade, digital technology giants – along with a new generation of start-ups – are now actively pursuing a share of the multi-billion-dollar US healthcare market. Concierge medicine, on-demand virtual health and other personalized services are solidifying consumer expectations of flexibility, convenience and control.

While consumers have more choice, they’re also paying more for healthcare. Inflation-weary consumers are apprehensive about rising costs, and many report frustrations with healthcare billing and payment processes. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, nearly four in ten patients postponed medical care because of cost concerns.

This tension between demand for choice and concerns about affordability leaves the sector vulnerable to disruption by players that offer alternative payment models that make healthcare more affordable for consumers, while making it easier to pay for care. Creating a more consumer-friendly approach to patient collections is essential for profitability.

1 in 10 patients use payment plans to manage the cost of care

Research by Experian Health and PYMNTs shows that patients welcome payment plans to spread out the cost of care. One in ten patients had used a payment plan to pay for their most recent doctor’s visit. Nearly three in ten older patients used a payment plan after receiving an unexpected bill. Unsurprisingly, those on lower incomes were most likely to need payment plans.

Experian Health’s State of Patient Access survey 2023 emphasized patients’ desire for more flexible and transparent payment options, including pre-service estimates, payment plans and digital payment methods. Providers see the benefits too: around two-thirds of providers said their organization understands patients’ unique financial situations and offers payment plans and financial assistance where appropriate.

Using data to tailor patient payment plans

For payment plans to work effectively, personalization is non-negotiable. Too often, payment plans apply a generic “one size fits all” formula to patient accounts, regardless of payment history, financial situation or other key indicators of the patient’s ability to pay. This runs the risk of delivering a poor consumer experience while doing little to reduce patient bad debt.

With a data-driven approach, healthcare organizations can identify the optimal plan for each patient. For example, PatientSimple® uses Experian Health’s proprietary data and analytics to assess each patient’s propensity to pay and guide them to the most appropriate financial pathway. A self-service portal gives patients a convenient way to generate estimates and consider different pricing plans, so they can make a more informed and confident decision about how to pay their bills. It also supports staff to have more compassionate financial conversations with patients.

Similarly, Patient Financial Advisor and Patient Estimates give patients upfront, accurate estimates of what they’re likely to owe, drawing on current chargemaster lists, payer contracts and the patient’s insurance data. Together with payment plans, these estimates help patients avoid unexpected bills, so they have a more positive payment experience and are less likely to miss payments.

A third tactic is to make it as easy as possible for patients to pay. Self-service and contactless payment options remove friction from the payment process, so patients are more inclined to pay promptly where they can. The patient’s account data can be securely auto-populated into payment tools so they can pay and go with minimal fuss.

Stay ahead of competitors by creating patient-friendly experiences

As healthcare evolves, healthcare organizations need to develop strategies to remain competitive while still delivering compassionate care. Personalized patient payment plans are one way to strike that balance. Not only do they give patients the flexibility and convenience they’re looking for, but providers can also use existing data to tailor plans that benefit both company and customers alike. Alex Harwitz, VP of Product, Digital Front Door, at Experian Health, says these tools can help providers stay competitive as patients are exposed to a growing range of consumer-friendly healthcare services:

“The move towards more patient friendly online experiences is a catalyst for improved price transparency. The challenge for providers is to adapt to shifting consumer needs while managing their resources wisely. But there’s a major opportunity for providers to use data they already hold to help patients figure out the best financial pathway. Putting patients first is a sure-fire strategy to see patient satisfaction and patient collections rise in parallel.”

Find out how healthcare organizations can remain profitable in an increasingly competitive market with personalized patient payment plans and patient payment solutions.

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