Coronavirus and Patient Payments

The third in a series of posts regarding the impact of Coronavirus on Flywire’s clients

Healthcare organizations are on the frontlines of the Coronavirus crisis. Doctors, nurses, first responders, practitioners and volunteers around the world are putting their lives at risk every hour of every day to help treat patients and contain the virus. Their courage, focus and resilience are an example to all of us.

The pandemic is also putting the healthcare industry in the spotlight in more ways than one. Much has been reported about the need to improve how we handle policies like paid sick leave, and critically, how consumers are impacted financially, leading to even bigger challenges in their affordability of out of pocket medical expenses, especially as they relate to specialized or unplanned visits.

As a result of Coronavirus, the world is becoming acutely aware of the long-standing affordability gap in healthcare, which also has a downstream impact on provider collectability. Before the COVID-19 health crisis, 47% of Americans struggled to pay a balance of $400. This gap will only widen with the financial strain that COVID-19 is putting on consumers, while hospitals are faced with revenue challenges from postponing elective procedures to prepare for COVID-19 treatment, and collecting from patients with less available cash.

This trend is a big concern for our healthcare clients and we are working with them in several different ways to help address it, including:

  • Adapting for COVID-19 Relief Payments – As a way to help defray the out-of-pocket spend for patients, and minimize bad debt for hospitals, Flywire provides an integrated solution that identifies a patient’s current financial situation through analytics, engages them with personalized payment offers and pre- and post-service, and enables them to self-activate payment arrangements that meet their needs. This rules-based solution allows clients to quickly adapt to unplanned scenarios, such as COVID-19, by offering a temporary lower installment payment to ease the burden on patients.
  • Transparency and Interoperability – Related to the above, the digital foundation and interoperability of our payment infrastructure gives providers a lot more transparency about estimated care costs both pre and post-service. This makes it easier for both hospitals and their patients to create payment plans that work for all involved.
  • Expert advice – Our healthcare team, many of whom have come from the provider side, has a lot of experience in the field and is in close contact with our clients as they navigate unprecedented demand.
Coronavirus and Patient Payments

Our healthcare team continues to field a number of questions that we thought would benefit others involved in healthcare payments. We’ve shared some of them below and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

How does Flywire ensure business continuity in situations like this?

Redundancy and resilience are native to Flywire’s payments network and platform. Our digital-first approach, operations and business continuity plans minimize any potential disruptions to the flow of monies. And our relationships with the world's top banking institutions and trusted regional and local payment partners enable us to offer the most convenient payment options and minimize risk in the face of market uncertainty.

What impact will this have on healthcare payments looking forward?

As we all know, healthcare costs have been a hot button issue in this country for some time. But, the outbreak is putting patient affordability and engagement even further under the microscope. The entire industry is scrambling to find new solutions that will make it easier for consumers to pay for care they need and engage with providers in real-time. Options like automated and personalized payment plans will have to become more mainstream.

Private insurers are saying they’ll step in and cover payments for more virtual visits/ telemedicine appointments for Covid-19 patients. Does this hurt your business?

That’s a great step. There are a lot of important innovations being made in the areas of telemedicine and remote care that address efficacy concerns and ensure patient safety in this pandemic. Healthcare systems need more ways to engage with patients, especially in high-risk scenarios like this.

We are not concerned about any financial impact of our business that could be caused by private insurers stepping up. We are one, but not the only, player in the market who is focused on increasing affordability and improving patient financial outcomes. In times of crisis like this, it’s critical that service providers augment their offerings to help patients and mitigate risk. We are proud to be one part of this larger strategy.