COVID-19 has forced several providers to think about providing their patients with improved financial experiences. Certain factors like moving to digital payment methods, patient financial flexibility, and the urge for increased bill transparency have led to such a situation. Two recent reports have indicated the fact that all the above three factors are crucial in the current era of COVID-19 to offer patients a better experience.
The reports were published keeping the matter of the impact of the pandemic on the financial behavior and preferences of a patient in mind. The conclusions for both the reports were the same, with the patients becoming more concerned than ever regarding the costs of healthcare.
The pandemic has forced people to scrutinize and prioritize their bill payments. Needless to say, healthcare is amongst one of the topmost things we all need. As a result, the healthcare system needs to offer patients flexible payment options, which will help them manage their medical bills with maximum convenience.
Impact of COVID-19 on Patient Financials
The aforesaid reports were concluded over the responses of over 1,600 respondents. Almost 66 percent of them held COVID-19 responsible for having the heaviest impact on their finances. Besides, around 35 percent of the people considered putting COVID-19 treatment aside, just to avoid the hefty bills. Patients aged 60 years and above mostly postponed their treatment in fear of contracting COVID-19.
Almost 34 percent of the people were more concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their financials than the virus itself. Surprise costs topped to be the most frustrating among 30 percent of the respondents while paying the medical bills. It was closely followed by the confusion regarding the amount of insurance coverage.
Out-of-pocket costs remain one of the primary reasons behind patients delaying treatment. The reports state that around 45 percent of the patients would be needing assistance for medical bills over $500, and the number shoots up to 66 percent for bills over $1,000.
More than 50 percent of patients with a Ph.D. or higher educational degree had problems understanding their medical bills and determining how much they needed to pay.
How Providers Can Help…
From the point of view of providers, of all the cancellations made in the previous year, 50 percent were due to COVID-19, followed by 41 percent due to cost concerns. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have fast emerged as ways to improve the financial experience of patients. Now, an algorithm can identify data patterns and allows providers to help patients with personalized financial plans.
All the confusion and concerns regarding payments have been one of the primary reasons for delaying crucial care. Such things not only worsen the health outcomes of a patient but also put a dent in the patient collection amount, especially in such a time when the entire healthcare system is struggling to cope up financially. In such a time, when the COVID-19 scenario is gradually heading towards betterment, providers should take the burden (and help from AI and Machine Learning) to reach out to the patients with tailored financial plans for an improved experience.