Over the past decade, American hospitals and health systems have been caught in a perfect storm of rising out of pocket costs from patients facing affordability issues. The proliferation of high deductible health plans (HDHPs) has shifted costs from insurance companies to individual patients and their families. Due to those ballooning deductibles but also to “out-of-network” charges and other industry complexities, patients rarely know what to expect when they receive a medical bill. And with 69% of Americans having less than $1,000 in savings, those bills can be difficult to manage even when they’re anticipated.
In this new landscape, the old ways of collecting payment for health care services—mainly through direct negotiations with insurance companies, with a smattering of outreach to the once-minimal self-pay segment—no longer work. Some hospitals and health systems have responded to the new context by relying more on collection agencies, or even by pursuing legal action when patients fail to pay their bills. But reliable patient surveys demonstrate that the majority of these patients are actually willing to pay (a willingness that can be seen in the uptick of credit card payments, for one).
Flywire has built its healthcare business on addressing these serious market shifts. Understanding that most patients want to pay their bills, Flywire worked with several health systems and industry experts to develop a responsive payment solution that automatically responds to patient financial needs to settle payments on mutually acceptable terms. This solution restores transparency and control to the patient experience but also modernizes it, enabling—and securing—non-traditional modes of payment.
Informed by both advanced segmentation data and the hospital’s own guidelines for acceptable term durations and amounts, this solution has made it possible for hospitals and health systems to navigate healthcare’s new financial waters. Its features—which include simple, multi-channel ways for patients to receive tailored payment offers and activate their chosen payment plan; automatic roll-up of new charges into existing plans; the ability to receive payments from different sources (i.e., another family member’s contributions); and cutting-edge credit card security technology—have restored hospitals’ control over collections in a way that sustains and strengthens patient trust. While hospitals have taken drastic measures to collect what they are owed, Flywire enables a more humane and ultimately more effective approach to the problem.
What are the results of this innovation? Significant metric improvements have proven consistent across more than 100 hospitals. These include:
- 15% increase in cash collections
- 70% patient-activated plans that require no CSR intervention
- 58% reduction in average payment plan length
- 26% reduction in placements to collections
- 40% decrease on billing-related phone calls
While these gains in efficiency and net revenue may be the biggest motivators for hospital decision-makers, Flywire also addresses a growing need entering the spotlight: the costs and risks associated with protecting patients’ credit card data. Where hospitals currently meet Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) either by conducting time-consuming audits of their entire network or by segmenting it—i.e, establishing and monitoring an entirely separate network to handle this data—Flywire’s technology is PCI-validated for use, which ensures that all card data is captured, transmitted, and stored off the provider network. This decreases risk of card data breach and typically yields a 90% reduction in PCI-DSS compliance audit scope/cost for hospitals using the Flywire solution.
The metrics above are undoubtedly significant. Yet the intangibles associated with this innovation story are surely as important as the numbers.
With Flywire, hospitals can earn the trust associated with competent and prompt billing practices, and assuage patients’ anxiety about their ability to afford their care. These intangibles have major effects on personal well-being, but also remove financial barriers to receiving care. After all, postponed medical attention often translates into costlier, more complicated care down the road.
Our health care system functions best when patients get the care they need when they need it. If they are avoiding preventative or even acute care due to fears they cannot pay, the most essential goals of our health care system are at risk.