According to Black Book’s 2017 Revenue Cycle Management survey, a staggering 82% of medical providers and 92% of hospitals plan to abandon ‘time-intensive, error-prone, manual efforts to back-end process and reconcile bills’ by Q4 2018.

This data point is among other eye-popping insights found in a compilation of two focused polls conducted among consumers and healthcare providers.

The results confirmed what many revenue cycle professionals have observed anecdotally: There is an acute need for more medical debt financing options, early-cycle patient engagement, analysis of consumers' propensity to pay, and cost transparency. Black Book collected data between April 1 and September 30, 2017 from 2,698 healthcare providers, plus a focused group of 850 healthcare consumers insured under high deductible health plans (HDHPs).

The research study is designed to report trends in consumer satisfaction and patient experiences, outline payment challenges, and identify best corrective strategies for healthcare providers. The consumer portion of the survey aimed to determine how patient responsibility for medical costs, which shifted from employers to patients, is impacting uncollected provider revenue.

Among the survey’s other key findings:

  • Tech on top. 83% of surveyed providers expect to answer increased consumerism with technology solutions to help patients anticipate, manage and track the costs of their health care.
  • OOP costs skyrocketing. Since 2015, patients have experienced a 29.4% increase in both deductible and out-of-pocket maximum costs.
  • Deductibles per surveyed consumers this year averaged $1820 and out-of-pocket costs rose to over $4400.
  • Online pay is the way. Nearly 62% of medical bills are currently paid online and 95% of consumers polled would pay online if the provider's website offered the option.
  • 71% of surveyed patients reveal that mobile pay and billing alerts have improved their satisfaction with their healthcare provider.
  • Info. and choices boost satisfaction. Online cost estimation, payment plan administration, and on-demand instructions support (top-ranked elements consumers say would boost their satisfaction) support increased cost transparency for consumers---and translate into faster posting and collection of payments.
  • Get ready for mobile pay. 89% of financial administrators expect that healthcare payments will be chiefly made on phones and mobile devices by Q4 2018, yet only 20% are currently ready for electronic payments beyond checks, cash or credit/debit cards.
  • Slow pay strangles physician practices. 83% of physician practices with fewer than 5 practitioners said the slow payment of high-deductible plan patients is their top collection challenge, followed by the difficulties practice staff have communicating patient payment accountability (81%)
  • Inaccurate estimates getting worse. Despite efforts from health plans to provide current data back to providers on patient deductibles, 83% of ambulatory providers including surgical centers, diagnostic facilities and rehabilitation facilities indicated that estimates are wrong, and the problem is worsening: 78% of respondents reported this chronic problem last year.
  • Focus on payment enhancements. Providers say these are the most urgent things they need to work on improving:
  1. Managing consumer expectations through insurance eligibility verification prior to appointment (91%)
  2. Cost transparency via out-of-pocket cost estimation (85%); and
  3. Convenience enhancements for payment remittance (87%)

Survey methodology, auditing, resources, comprehensive research and ranking data can be found at http://www.blackbookmarketresearch.com.


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