The existing health-care billing and payment system is getting a facelift. Reflective of the new health economy wherein patients have become purchasers demanding quick, convenient, affordable, and transparent methods of medical billing and payment, the modern makeover also reflects the one-click modality of the digital age.
As many patients now shoulder the bulk of their health-care costs on their own, the survival of health-care providers increasingly depends upon their ability to adapt and run their practice as a business catering to the demands of consumers.
Health-Care Billing Shift
According to a 2015 PwC Health Research Institute (HRI) consumer survey, patients are unhappy with the health-care billing and payment status quo. Indeed, the current health-care system is mired with complex regulations and billing codes (i.e., the new ICD-10) and with payment options that patients find confusing and hard to decipher. Advances in technology, coupled with the rise of online or web-based business models, have given birth to new, convenient payment alternatives that patients are now demanding. It is not surprising that over half the consumers surveyed expressed interest in online, at-home, and retail options for medical services, tests, and treatments, in addition to easier and quicker ways to view and pay their bills.
The transition away from traditional medical billing does not benefit only patients. Doctors, hospitals, and other health-care providers cash in on the shift as well as they are able to reduce time spent on patient bills, improve cash flow, reduce administrative costs, and better manage their practices.
By making the move to mobile and digital, by embracing simplicity, by providing multiple payment solutions, and by making billing more transparent, the health-care sector is matching up with other industries, transforming traditional health practices into modern business enterprises.
The story does not end here. A growing number of retail and telecom businesses from outside the health sector have entered the picture in a bid to capitalize on what has been dubbed “the new health economy” and provide patients with enticing one-shop and at-home alternatives for meeting their health-care needs.
Known as “market disruptors,” some of the new services include: online medical consultations, home-based electrocardiograms, remotely monitored heart monitors and defibrillators, wearable health-care devices that measure blood pressure, glucose, drug levels, weight, temperature, and other functions, as well as retail clinics offering treatments such as MRIs and dialysis at a fraction of the price.
Savvy health-care providers who do not want to be left behind or, worse yet, find themselves on the road to obscurity will embrace the variable times, offer more attractive solutions for patients, and turn the changing face of health-care billing and payment into a win-win situation.