Don’t Be Adrift in a Changing Market – Take Control of your Future and Publish Your Prices

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ACA. No ACA. AHCA. No AHCA. There’s no doubt it’s a tumultuous time in healthcare. None of us know what’s coming from Washington. While we all wait to see how legislation will play out, as a provider, you try to survive day-to-day, juggling the demands of keeping patients healthy and satisfied with their care while struggling to keep your doors open. Every day you deal with Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement issues as well as many patients who can’t afford increasing insurance premiums and higher deductibles.

With all of the unknowns floating around, maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and concentrate on what you do know and put your efforts into what you can change.

What We Know

Regardless of the outcomes of Washington’s healthcare law, we do know that patients are increasingly burdened with higher deductibles. We know that unless you collect your fees upfront, you will likely end up with 15 cents on the dollar and you won’t collect that until months or more down the road after services are rendered. We know patients are demanding to know prices of services up front so that they can budget for medical bills. And we know that Tom Price, head of Health and Human Services, favors pricing transparency and that he has many powers not reliant on congress passing legislation.

What You Can Control

You don’t have to succumb to the market like the 10 hospital systems who went bankrupt last year or the five who have done so this first quarter in 2017. You have more control over your destiny and improved finances than you realize. For instance, instead of waiting for the legislative stick to prod you into publishing prices, you can reach for the existing carrots. Take a proactive approach to publishing prices, something most providers are resisting, and you can enjoy the competitive advantage of pleasing patients and being first to do so in your market.

Now is the Time

According to an article in Medical Economics, now is the time to make changes that will help your practice financially says Mark Werner, M.D., national director of clinical consulting for The Chartis Group, a healthcare consulting firm. “Werner notes there is always opportunity in uncertainty, especially for physicians who are visionary and entrepreneurial in their leadership. ‘Luck favors the prepared,’ says Werner. ‘Now is the time that will reward the more ambitious and the bolder-moving practices. Those that tend to be late adopters and more cautious—already finding themselves behind the curve—will find themselves more behind.’”[1]

You can enable your registration team, your front desk and your schedulers to have a financial conversation before services are rendered where they can provide patients with true costs (not just estimates) and can collect the full amount upfront or set up a payment plan. You can access a patient’s HSA account, tell them their balance, and help them use that account to pay you.

Changing Patient Behaviors

David Lee Scher, MD, wrote a blog discussing 5 ways to change patient behaviors. He suggests two ways to foster respect for your patients and empower them: utilizing technology and being sensitive to the issue of cost. Dr. Scher says: “A mobile health tech strategy is essential for reaching patients and improving patient satisfaction.”[2] Additionally, he suggests “conveying sensitivity to costs by prescribing the most economical medications, minimizing tests as well as acknowledging the issue as a concern.”[3]

Patients appreciate doctors and hospital staff who are willing to have the hard conversation about cost. Even more so, they appreciate knowing the true cost of their services. Knowledge is power and knowing what their healthcare services are going to cost puts the patient in the driver’s seat of his or her care.

Medical Economics recently published an article about the downside of publishing prices, with an issue being that you may not be able to give patients an accurate amount for their services: “The difference between what the practice charges and what the patient actually pays may make comparison-shopping for medical services particularly complicated.”[4] And that’s true in many cases when providers have payment systems that use outdated EOBs and other, old information to provide just estimates.

Provide Patients with True Pricing

HealthQRS, however, provides true pricing due to our cutting-edge technology and algorithms that use actual payer contracts by provider plus insurance verification information plus charity plus other business rules to calculate the actual out-of-pocket per patient per procedure. This information is available with the click of a button by your staff. We also empower patients to shop online in a Retail Medical Marketplace setting. Tech savvy patients appreciate being able to use smartphones and tablets to shop for healthcare services, compare prices and book online, much like they do for products on Amazon.com.

HealthQRS’ Point-of-Service solution goes far beyond estimates. We help your scheduling and registrar team explain the whole picture with real prices to your patient. We provide interactive scripts on the scheduling or intake screen to help staff members collect the full deductible upfront or discuss setting up payment plans with patients. This is helpful for team members who aren’t used to discussing financials with patients. Our scripts give your team confidence to help your patient and your practice. In turn, you collect more of your money rather than pennies on the dollar months after the procedure is complete. Not only does your bottom-line improve, we’ve found that prepayment creates less no-shows.

With HealthQRS, there is no upfront capital expense for our solutions and yet you enjoy immediate financial benefits from collecting patient out-of-pocket expenses immediately. We invite you to schedule a private demonstration of our Point-of-Service solution and / or our Retail Medical Marketplace. Healthcare’s future is here. Take control of your future by talking with HealthQRS.

[1] Keith Martin, “How Physicians Can Deal with Policy Uncertainty, Medical Economics, Mar. 10, 2017, http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/how-physicians-can-deal-policy-uncertainty?page=0,1

[2] David Lee Scher, MD, “5 Ways to Change Patient Behavior,” MedPage Today’s KevinMD.com, Jan. 21, 2014, http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2014/01/5-ways-change-patient-behavior.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] Randi Minetor, “The Perils of Price Lists for Private Practices,” Medical Economics, Mar. 15, 2017,

http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/perils-price-lists-private-practices?page=0,1

 

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