More healthcare practitioners are reporting that patients have a negative attitude when it comes to making healthcare payments. When consumers use professional services, such as those of attorneys or architects, they fully expect to pay. Consumers have no difficulty in paying for these services in advance. However, they seem to have issues with paying for the services of medical professionals. This applies especially when it comes to providing card details upfront before the provision of healthcare services. It’s becoming clear that patient attitudes need to change with regard to paying for their treatments.
Why Do Patients View Paying for Healthcare Differently?
The primary reason for patient objections lies in the belief that all citizens have a right to healthcare. Current ideology states all citizens have rights to good health and good healthcare provision. This leads to many patients expecting to receive treatment without any regard for their ability to pay. Unfortunately, with so many patients now in arrears with medical payments, these expectations are simply being reinforced.
Another factor compounding this problem is the lack of transparency over how much healthcare providers expect patients to pay. Some practices are beginning to recognize the need to make patients aware of potential costs upfront. However, many are still leaving patients in the dark. This is contributing to the problem of nonpayment. Let’s compare it with using an attorney or an architect. No consumer would use his or her services without a clear idea of his or her costs upfront.
Preventing the Problems
Of course, there are ways for practices to make patients’ healthcare payments more transparent. There are also ways to make it easier for patients to make payments in ways that suit them. Checking eligibility in advance is always the best practice. So is creating patient estimates upfront and putting a credit card on file. Automated payment plans are another useful tool to facilitate patient payments. Also, it’s beneficial to put in place a web or telephone payment portal. This allows patients to make payments at the time of their choice and via their preferred methods.
When paired with simplified invoices, patients are better able to understand exactly what they’re paying for. They’re also able to select the payment methods that suit them. Of course, it’s important to inform patients of all the benefits of using these payment tools. Having the right policies and enforcing them is also essential. When you have integrated all these ideas into your practice, it becomes easier to receive payments on time
Changing Patient Expectations
Practices that implement all these tools and enforce their use can change their patients’ expectations. As increasing numbers of practices adopt them, patients nationwide will begin to realize their payment responsibilities. Although putting change in place is never easy, it’s worth it in the long run. Left unchallenged and unchecked, patients’ expectations that they will receive healthcare for free can only grow.
Of course, it’s only natural for practitioners to worry about losing their patients. In today’s society, competitiveness is high. Patients are ready to shop around for goods and services. Practices are worried that raising the concept of finance upfront will alienate patients and encourage them to go elsewhere. However, evidence shows as long as practices take the time to understand how processes work, the benefits outweigh the risks. Knowing how to discuss financial matters upfront with patients helps them understand the new expectations and makes the change easier.
When practices struggle to receive patients’ healthcare payments on time, or even at all, it’s clear change is necessary. Changing patient expectations lies at the heart of this. While implementing changes is never easy, following the advice outlined here makes a big difference in keeping your practice afloat.