When it comes to solutions for hospital point-of-service collections, patients need options to make monthly payments. Patient access teams need training and approval to begin this process at patient access points. Fortunately, there are some emerging solutions that show great promise for these important revenue cycle concerns.
In an article entitled, “Rev Cycle Game Changers in Patient Financial Services”, Inside ARM details a company, CarePayment, that uses technology and analytics to partner with medical facilities and offer whole life cycle, zero percent APR financing solutions to patients for whom out of pocket payments are a particular burden.
“Using the 2015 data, we then computed collection rates after 12 months for the different patient obligation size categories (see Figure 1). For visits with small patient obligations, 93.8 percent of the balance was paid within a year. The rate drops to just 66.7 percent for visits with obligations above $200. For visits with the highest obligation, roughly 16 percent were written off as bad debt or abandoned, and about another 17 percent were sent to collection agencies.” — from a report in HealthAffairs.org blog
Helping patients with high deductibles make payments is very important these days for addressing hospital point-of-service collections. As a recent article in RevCycleIntelligence points out, “In a time of healthcare consumerism and high-deductible health plans, the patient has become a major revenue source for healthcare organizations. But without strong point-of-service patient collection strategies, providers could be seeing their payments walk right out the door with their patients.” The article goes on to cover some key recommendations in detail which include:
- Train front-end staff to have difficult patient financial responsibility discussions
- Transfer revenue cycle management functions from backend to front office
- Consider implementing consumer-friendly electronic payment options
- Increase price transparency to help patients understand financial responsibilities at point-of-service
Another article in Healthcare Dive backs this thinking up: “When hiring front-of-house staff, Gray [Josh Gray, VP of research at Athena Health] suggests establishing expectations and make clear that new hires understand collecting outstanding balances at the time of service is critical and hold them accountable. The first thing for a hospital to do is ask for payment, Longo stated, adding, “It doesn’t always happen believe it or not.” Gray said staff may need to be provided with tools such as scripting or role-playing to help ease them into how such conversations can be compassionately handled.”
So, the good news is that there are both external game changer companies, and internal proven revenue cycle team adjustments coming into play. This is especially helpful, as Bloomberg BNA reports that, “Changes in the healthcare industry in recent years coupled with uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act have placed the healthcare industry on a critical watch list.”
The article goes on to look at pressure points for hospitals and healthcare providers: “One material pressure point for healthcare providers concerns availability and maximization of insurance reimbursements (from both private and government payors). Part of this pressure results from the evolution from fee-for-service reimbursement – where each component of a procedure is paid for separately – to bundled payments – where the hospital receives one fixed payment for the entire “episode of care” regardless of the number of procedures or length of stay.”
No wonder that the Accounts Receivable industry is looking for new solutions. Inside ARM, in a recent article, first notes that, “Providers realize that the old way of doing business—holding open debt on the books, offering unstructured payment plans or in-house financing, or spending time and energy chasing down delinquent accounts, is too risky and inefficient.” Solutions? The article gives this example of yet another company stepping up to help patients afford payments: “Parasail is a health tech startup seeded with venture capital from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Montage Ventures, and offers both patient financing and collections. Its low-interest-loan marketplace for non-elective medical bills leverages technology and scale to provide more financing choices to patients.”
The Parasail site pitches its solution as, “Patient payment plans that work for you. The straightforward and stress free way to manage your medical expenses.” And we think that these emerging payment options along with smart technology, staff training, and a focus on up-front collections will go a long way to alleviate stress for hospital point of service collections and the revenue cycle itself.