What patients want from hospital financing programs: 4 insights

Based on patient and provider market research, hospitals can make smarter decisions about the patient payment process that will improve both customer satisfaction and the revenue cycle.

During a Becker's Hospital Review webinar held in October sponsored by iVita Financial, two iVita Financial leaders — Chris Cox, senior vice president of product, strategy and operations, and Paul Jaragoski, vice president of healthcare sales — shared 2021 research results as well as how patient financing programs can improve collections.

Four key insights: 

  1. Patients want payment options, digital statements and the ability to pay before or at the point of treatment. According to iVita Financial research, 52 percent of patients would appreciate more options to pay their medical bills. "Our survey also indicated that patients desire digital communication such as texting and emails [about payment] over phone calls," Mr. Jaragoski said. Finally, about half of patients said they'd prefer to make a payment before or at the time of service.

  2. Providers report that best ideas to improve the revenue cycle are customized payment options from third-party loan programs, staff incentives and one-time discounts. "What we've found is that payment concerns equal cancellations," Mr. Jaragoski said. "If hospitals provide patients with affordable payment options to address their concerns, I believe we'll see improved utilization, reduced patient leakage and better patient satisfaction." Staff also need to be trained on how to ask for money, and patients are receptive to discounts for faster payments.

  3. When it comes to selecting a third-party financing program, hospitals want excellent treatment of patients, simplicity and speed, cash acceleration, and minimal IT involvement. The most important consideration for hospitals is taking care of their patients. "They want patients to have access to the best extended payment options and a very patient-friendly collection process," Mr. Jaragoski said. "Second, cash has always been king, so the program's ability to improve self-pay collection performance overall is critically important. Finally, hospitals want something simple and fast to implement, with minimal IT involvement."

  4. Understanding the difference between payment plans, recourse lending and non-recourse lending is critical to making the right decision. Since payment plans are not loans, they are typically easy to implement, but can be difficult to manage as a portfolio grows. "They're pretty unwieldy to manage from an overhead perspective, and you also lose out on the cash acceleration benefits that you get with financing," Mr. Cox explained. 

Lending options help accelerate cash and improve collections. "iVita Financial offers a non-recourse solution with zero-percent interest and no patient fees ever," Mr. Cox said. "It's available to all patients regardless of credit score, and we fund the hospital immediately at discharge for the full balance. If a patient defaults, that's on us. Our pricing model is simple and straightforward: We take a small discount of the loan proceeds as our service fee, meaning hospitals receive the vast majority of the balance upfront without ever having to worry about collections or defaults."

To watch the full webinar, click here

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