Article

Helping to cure payment problems in healthcare

Alex Orechoff | Director, Vertical Growth, Worldpay from FIS

January 20, 2022

The patient experience in healthcare across the globe is becoming increasingly digitalized.

Consultations are now available through video chat and telehealth appointments, vaccine passports are being introduced to verify vaccination status, and wearable medical devices are becoming more prevalent. The pandemic has made many of these changes obvious in our day-to-day lives, while big data and predictive healthcare continue to gain traction on an international scale.

However, the digital transformation of healthcare did not start with the pandemic; – it was only accelerated by it1. It has become increasingly common to see electronic health records (EHR), electronic medical records (EMR) and patient scheduling systems used by healthcare teams to enable time savings and more efficient administration. Over 92% of office-based U.S. physicians already have EHR or EMR2.

While global healthcare goes digital in these ways, revenue management and payments remain relatively antiquated. There exists a real opportunity for providers to rapidly improve the patient experience and add to the bottom line.

So, how exactly can providers adapt their payments infrastructure to meet today’s challenges and demands?

The challenge of payment delays

Payments to private healthcare providers are booming. Today, the average American household spends $5,000 on healthcare annually3. Total out-of-pocket spending in the U.S. is estimated to have reached $491.6 billion in 2021, an increase of around 10% over 20204.

This growth is happening outside of the U.S as well. China’s private healthcare industry is forecast to reach a projected market size of $1.6 trillion by the year 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.1%5. In Japan and Canada, markets are forecast to grow at 3.6% and 6% respectively, up to 2027 and in Germany by approximately 4.3%5

The growing use of private healthcare means growing payment volumes, even in jurisdictions with a publicly funded (or mixed public and private) healthcare system where out-of-pocket expenses will still need to be accounted for. In Bulgaria, Greece and Latvia, for example, over a third of healthcare expenditure takes the form of out-of-pocket payments6.

The challenge for healthcare providers is that these expenses have traditionally been paid using methods that aren’t particularly fast or efficient.

Payment methods such as mail, through which more than 32% of U.S patients paid for treatment7, is a relatively expensive and slow option for providers, especially compared to digital alternatives8.

In these circumstances, patients could find it difficult to pay at all, or choose to delay payment. This could affect provider cash flow when payments occur well after the delivery of patient care. Delayed payments often need to be chased or collected, a time-consuming, manual and unpleasant task for all parties.

These challenges not only impact healthcare providers that bill insurance, but also those practices not traditionally covered by insurance, such as dentistry9.

A digital cure

Crucially, consumers want changes to the ways that their healthcare payments are handled. As a provider, you might ask yourself how your organization should react to unlock better experiences and more value.

In the US nearly a third (28%) of consumers say they wish healthcare was more like the banking industry when it comes to payment types and payment options6. Nearly half would like their provider to offer the option to pay via contactless credit or debit card6 and nearly 60% say their perception of their provider would improve if contactless options6 were offered.

The answer is simple, really: Allow more payment avenues.

Key priorities for providers should therefore be offering multiple payment channels, making them available at the time of care delivery and implementing a modern payments system that helps reduce errors and security risks.

Offering a diverse set of payment options that align with the customer habits offers clear benefits, potentially decreasing the chances the transaction abandonment.

Financing options at the point of payment could also increase cash flow certainty while taking into account the difficulties that people might have in paying one lump sum.

Encouraging more on-time payments in this way has the potential knock-on effect of decreasing the need for (and expenditure on) collections resources. Collections tend to not only have a greater material cost, but can also negatively affect your organization’s reputation if handled poorly.

By adopting the solutions explored above, and working with the right partner, you could play a part in the continuing evolution towards a healthier digital healthcare landscape – and help enhance the patient experience now and into the future.

Consider partnering with a global, integrated payments provider like Worldpay from FIS®. Our advanced payments technology could help alleviate issues and improve the payments process. Speak to us today to learn more about our payment solutions for healthcare providers.

Source References:

1 EY (2021) How COVID-19 has triggered a sprint towards smarter healthcare [Accessed 09/12/21] https://www.ey.com/en_uk/health/how-covid-19-has-triggered-a-sprint-toward-smarter-health-care

2 Statista (2020) Office-based U.S. physicians with EMR/EHR systems [Accessed 09/12/21] https://www.statista.com/statistics/252083/office-based-physicians-with-emr-ehr-systems-in-the-us-2001-2012/

3 Clever (2021) How U.S. Health Policy Changes Have Affected Healthcare Costs Over Time [Accessed 09/12/21] https://listwithclever.com/research/healthcare-costs-over-time/

4 Clever (2021) Kalorama Information (2021) Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Expenditures in the United States, 5th Edition [Accessed 09/12/21] https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payer/nationwide-out-pocket-spending-grew-10-to-1-650-per-person-2021-expect-to-continue-through

5 Clever (2021) ReportLinker via Global Newswire (2020) Global Private Healthcare Industry [Accessed 09/12/21] https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/09/08/2089702/0/en/Global-Private-Healthcare-Industry.html

6 eurostat (2021) Healthcare expenditure statistics [Accessed 09/12/21] https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Healthcare_expenditure_statistics

7 US Bank (2021) U.S. Bank Survey: COVID-19 Accelerated Virtual Care, Healthcare Payments Digitization [Accessed 09/12/21] https://ir.usbank.com/news-releases/news-release-details/us-bank-survey-covid-19-accelerated-virtual-care-healthcare

8 Financial Executives (2021) 3 Ways Digitization is Changing Healthcare Payments [Accessed 09/12/21] https://www.financialexecutives.org/FEI-Daily/December-2020/3-Ways-Digitization-Is-Changing-Healthcare-Payment.aspx

9 IC System (2020) Cash Flow Solutions for Dentists Struggling During COVID-19 [Accessed 09/12/21] https://www.icsystem.com/cash-flow-solutions-for-dentists-struggling-during-covid-19/