The term consumerism has become commonplace in healthcare, as hospitals and health systems begin to compete with Amazon, Walmart, CVS and other unusual players entering the healthcare space.
Traditionally, healthcare providers have fallen short when it comes to offering the same levels of convenience and transparency standard in industries like retail and banking. Patients often lack access to clear information about cost and coverage, which can complicate the payment experience and result in unexpected bills.
"Healthcare is different than other industries. Foremost right now is that providers have to strategically address the affordability issue," said John Talaga, executive vice president of healthcare at Flywire, during a March 25 webinar. Mr. Talaga pointed out that an increasing amount of hospital revenue is attributable to direct payments from patients. If hospitals are unable to make patients' out-of-pocket expenses more transparent and convenient, financial performance will suffer.
In a survey, Flywire found that 90 percent of consumers want the option of a payment plan for uncovered healthcare expenses. However, only 44 percent of patients are on payment plans. Patients are also eager to pay their bills, with more than 93 percent saying they are willing to make payments on time or even early.
During the webinar, which was presented by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Flywire, Leslie Richard, system vice president of revenue cycle at Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, discussed how the health system has been able to improve the patient financial experienced with Flywire.
CommonSpririt was formed in February 2019 through the merger of San Francisco-based Dignity Health and Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives. Specifically, Ms. Richard discussed how CHI was able to enhance the patient experience by making its payment processes more consumer friendly by deploying Flywire.
Prior to updating its revenue cycle, CHI offered a highly fragmented online payment experience. The health system's patient statements lacked clarity and all payment plans had to be set up manually over the phone.
With a huge opportunity to improve collections on patient responsibility, CHI looked to create a personalized financial experience for patients. By adopting a standardized methodology regardless of the EMR an affiliated hospital used, CHI was able to create a "retail-like" experience that gave patients the opportunity to manage their financial responsibilities seamlessly.
To begin, CHI leveraged Flywire to automate its pre-service estimations and post-service balances. Flywire segments account histories and balances to determine if a patient qualifies for a payment plan. These payment plans are then inputted into the EMR, which notifies providers if a patient opts for the plan.
Prior to a patient undergoing a surgery or other procedure, CHI allows them to view the estimate price of the service and payment options with Flywire. Through their smartphone, patients can enroll in a payment plan offer.
Following a trip to the hospital, patients receive a consolidated statement on a single form. On the front, there is an account summary, payment plan options and a call-to-action. The back includes account activity by visit and customized for policy information. Patients that don't want paper statements can opt for digital payment.
"On the consolidated statements, what's important is that we are pulling all of this information together and presenting the patient with options for all of the services that have been rendered," said Ms. Richard. "Think about a toll bill or your visa. You don't get a bill per transaction. In trying to create the patient experience, we wanted to show all of the services rendered at our facilities in a consolidated fashion."
With the patient financial experience optimized through Flywire, more than 70 percent of the health system's patients have activated payment plans. The health system has reported a significant increase in self-pay cash collected and the average payment plan has shrunk to 12 months.
Today, CommonSpirit Health is looking to ensure the patient experience remains consistent through the duration of a payment plan. The health system is constantly evaluating its operations to create positive experiences for patients inside and outside its hospitals.
To view the webinar, click here.