Patient Engagement: A Change Agent in Healthcare

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Six hundred and 8 billion dollars. $608 billion. That’s the expected amount consumers will pay out-of-pocket for healthcare by 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control.[1]

We are in the midst of a vicious cycle. Healthcare executives strive to improve health outcomes. Patients defer medical care because of costs. When they do seek care, they have trouble paying, causing many hospital systems to go bankrupt.

It all comes back to the patient’s inability to pay.

Engage Patients: Treat Them Like Consumers

When you take a bird’s eye view, the missing link appears. Treat patients like consumers. Empower them to shop for services and discounts, give them increased ways to fund and access health saving accounts (HSA) and tools to schedule and pay for services with easy-to-use apps on their smartphones.

To increase patient engagement, it’s essential to understand a patient’s primary motivator. Money is a key factor that compels a patient to get involved and stay involved. High deductible plans hit consumers hard and have them searching for ways to shop and save. Once you’ve piqued a patient’s interest, they need a tool for action to stay involved.

HSAs Empower Patients

Expanded HSAs seem destined to pass in Washington. President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price favor them. And this is a positive for healthcare providers and patients. Increasing funding limits with easier access to those funds provides consumers with more ways to pay medical bills. Once they have the means, giving consumers tools to shop for discounted services and a way to pay upfront with tools they already use, such as apps on their smartphones, allows you to collect more money in a way that puts revenue in your bottom line faster.

In a recent article on CNBC.com, Tom Anderson writes about increases in HSAs: “Provisions of the newly unveiled American Health Care Act will nearly double the contribution limits for health savings accounts and give people more flexibility in how they can spend money in these tax-advantaged accounts.”[2]

An article in Medical Economics backs up the fact that patient engagement increases when we give patients the right tools to manage what matters most to them: their health and their money. “The essentials of consumer-centric healthcare include empowering the patient to make choices, be involved in the decision-making process for her/his care and, it should be emphasized, understand what the costs are upfront by way of transparent pricing and candid conversation.”[3]

The article also makes a great point that all parties involved have to work together to achieve real results. “Consumer-centric healthcare must be true, balanced collaboration involving the health plan (or insurer), the medical group, and, of course, the patient.”[4]

Pricing Transparency Engages Patients

HealthQRS has developed two powerful solutions, a Retail Medical Marketplace and a Point-of-Service module that can help providers, health plans and consumers work together to achieve authentic consumer-centric healthcare. Our solutions use a special algorithm to calculate the true out-of-pocket per patient per procedure, not just estimates.

At the point-of-service, as soon as a procedure is authorized and the provider’s scheduler, registrar, financial counselor or front office personnel calls the patient, he or she has a tool to discuss the true cost of the procedure, along with the exact amount that the patient will owe. At that point, the provider’s team member can either collect the full out-of-pocket amount or set up monthly payment plans. This helps providers receive much more than the typical 15 cents on the dollar once a debt goes into collections.

Our Retail Medical Marketplace provides consumers with an online format to type in services they need and instantly receive a list of the provider’s procedures, locations and available dates, along with real pricing. Patients can book appointments online and pay in full in advance or set up monthly installments.

Both solutions can take payments from HSA credit or debit cards and can track how much is available in each patient’s HSA, allowing patients to easily see and manage their HSA balances.

HealthQRS solutions impact patient behaviors because we empower them with tools they need. We can set you and your patients up to win regardless of the outcomes of healthcare laws. We invite you to learn more about HealthQRS’ solutions. Click here to schedule a demo, or feel free to contact us with any questions.

 

[1] Tom Furr, “The Key to Understanding Consumer-Centric Healthcare,” Medical Economics, Mar. 4, 2017, http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/key-understanding-consumer-centric-healthcare

[2] Tom Anderson, “Inside the House Republicans’ $19 billion plan to turbocharge health savings accounts,” CNBC, Mar. 7, 2017, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/07/house-republicans-want-to-turbocharge-health-savings-accounts-heres-how-that-would-work.html

[3] Furr, “Key to Understanding.”

[4] Ibid.

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