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Top 5 Things Your Patients Want from the Patient Billing Process

Survey says: Patients love options. Digital options, that is.

“One hundred people surveyed, top six answers on the board. What’s a popular dream vacation for someone who just won the lottery?” In the game show Family Feud, this might be a typical question — can you pick an answer that would match with the 100 people surveyed? (Tahiti? Australia?)

In Waystar’s second annual Patient Payment Check-Up™ Survey, we asked a lot of questions, too — and we commissioned HIMSS Analytics to survey 1K patients and nearly 900 providers so we could determine their attitudes and behaviors in three key areas: cost estimates, financial communications, and payment preferences. The survey enables us to pinpoint the differing perceptions between providers who bill for healthcare and the patients who are shouldering larger portions of these bills.

Patients know what they want, and they have a lot to say about the billing process, including their preferences for financial communications and payment options.  Here are five key discoveries:

  1. Clarity wins. An overwhelming number of patients (86%) who participated in our survey said receiving a cost estimate helps them understand what they owe.
  2. Providing estimates reap rewards. Patients receiving a cost estimate are more likely to:
    • Pay more of their bill faster(46%)
    • Return for future care (68%)
    • Recommend the practice to a friend (69%)
  1. Patients need help. Patients want to pay what they owe — but they’re confused about what their balance is, and they find the billing process tough to navigate. 84% percent of patients say they feel responsible to pay for the healthcare services they receive, but 35% say it’s inconvenient to pay for them — a 15% increase from our survey last year.
  2. Think digital for payments. Preference for digital payment options is increasing across all age groups. 83% percent of patients prefer to pay a charge of less than $200 using a credit/debit card, and 76% would agree to authorize a one-time charge of $200 or less via a credit card on file (CCOF). Interestingly, the number of respondents aged 75 and older who said they’d prefer CCOF jumped significantly (32% in 2018 vs. 16.7% in 2017) — showing it’s not just younger patients who want digital convenience.
  3. Sharing is caring. Patients want to know what their payment options are. Plenty of providers offer payment plans (49.25%), credit lines (21.5%), and online bill pay (42.2%), but survey respondents say they were offered only a couple of these options during their last office visit.

Fortunately, there’s an enormous opportunity for providers to improve financial communications and deliver transformative and convenient billing options for patients.

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