As Challenges with Healthcare Price Transparency and Billing Abound, Data Reveals Patients Seek a More Personalized Payments Experience
CHICAGO — August 6, 2019 — Waystar, a leading provider of cloud-based revenue cycle technology, today released an industry survey examining what is often the most stressful aspect of medical care: the financial experience. The study, “The Patient Financial Experience: Consumer Attitudes and Behavior,” reveals that the biggest barriers to a positive patient financial experience are lack of understanding around pricing, insurance coverage and complexity of medical bills.
Pricing transparency is important, but healthcare financial literacy is the missing link
Frustration with healthcare’s pricing failures has hit a boiling point, and new legislation is aimed at addressing the lack of transparency in the industry. But price transparency alone does not guarantee that patients will be able to make informed and responsible medical decisions; the missing link is healthcare financial literacy. Waystar’s survey shows that a quarter of patients find pricing too complicated to understand and a third don’t even know that prices vary. When asked about a recent planned or routine medical procedure, only about one in 10 patients compared costs across multiple providers in advance.
Younger generations are hit the hardest
Medical bills and associated debt are a growing concern population-wide, and Waystar’s study finds patients between the ages of 18 and 39 are hardest hit, with more than one in three choosing to delay or forgo care to keep bills at bay. “Surprise billing” plays a significant role here: when asked about their last medical procedure, one in three patients said the amount of the bill they received was more than expected.
For revenue success, hospitals need to customize patient financial encounters
While the ability to pay a bill is the biggest issue at hand, the data reveals that customized patient financial encounters can have a significant impact on the patient experience and whether or not a bill gets paid. Findings show:
- Billing options matter: 37 percent of patients prefer to pay online, while only 6 percent prefer payment by phone
- Keep it simple: Patients’ top requests for a more positive experience include simpler bills that show the total balance (45 percent) and payment plan options (42 percent)
- Learn from retail: While 42 percent of patients would like to be offered a payment plan, only a quarter said they have been offered one to resolve their bill
- Open the lines of communication: 67 percent of patients have not and do not plan to discuss their final bill with the hospital
“In an era of high-deductible health plans and increasing demands for price transparency, we’re glad to see a surge of legislation around price disclosure,” said Waystar CEO Matt Hawkins. “But our study found that, even with improved price transparency, a one-size-fits-all approach to patient billing doesn’t make sense. There’s still a lot of information for patients to decipher and providers need to prioritize clear, tailored communication with patients. Only then will we truly build a better patient financial experience and revenue cycle.”
Waystar provides next-generation, cloud-based technology that simplifies and unifies the healthcare revenue cycle. The Waystar platform removes friction in payment processes, streamlines workflows and improves financials for providers in every care setting. Waystar has scored Best in KLAS® every year since 2010 and earned multiple #1 rankings from Black Book™ surveys since 2012. The Waystar platform supports more than 450,000 providers, 750 health systems and hospitals, and 5,000 payers and health plans. For more information, visit waystar.com or follow @Waystar on Twitter.