Resources

July 15, 2014

CarePayment Offers New Tools to Better Serve Patients Who Expect More Convenience, Service

By CarePayment

Early activation of patient financing better serves patients and more than doubles self-pay collection rates

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 15, 2014) – CarePayment®, a leading national provider of patient financing, has expanded its point-of-service features and tools to help providers reduce accelerating bad debt by fostering patient financial engagement earlier, especially before treatment. When providers offer CarePayment’s 0.00% APR payment programs to patients early in the revenue cycle, collections more than double, net of fees, compared to in-house payment plans, which are often offered 30 or 60 days after the date of service.

“We’ve found it is important to discuss financing options beginning at the time of registration, including the 0.00% APR financing program from CarePayment. We try to give our community as many tools and options as possible so they don’t wait too long to take care of their health needs. We don’t want patients buying furniture before getting needed medical care because the store offers an affordable monthly payment plan and they aren’t aware that we do, too,” says Dan Hogan, chief financial officer for DeSoto Memorial Hospital.

Both patients and providers are struggling with the steep rise in patient-owed medical bills, driven by the growing prevalence of high-deductible plans. Uncompensated care, including bad debt and charity care, increased 12% to $46 billion in 2012, according to a January, 2014 survey of 5,000 hospitals by the American Hospital Association. At the same time, two out of 5 working-age adults, or 75 million people, are carrying medical debt or had problems paying medical bills, up from 58 million in 2005, according to the Commonwealth Fund. And 30% of U.S. adults say they, or a family member, have put off medical treatment in the past year because of the cost, according to Gallup.

“Affordability is a major issue for a growing number of patients. Our consumer research and our experience managing more than 1.25 million patient accounts is loud and clear: Patients need and want information about financing options as early as possible, including at scheduling, at registration, or with the first statement,” says Ann Garnier, CarePayment’s chief operating officer.

With more of their own money on the line, patients are raising other expectations for providers, applying some of the same criteria in choosing doctors and hospitals as they do when buying cars or making other major financial decisions. In addition to the flexible financing they have come to expect from retailers, patients are looking to providers for price transparency, greater convenience and a more personalized approach, all supported by online and mobile technologies, Garnier says.

This trend in healthcare parallels a broader global pattern, creating what Forrester Research calls The Age of the Customer. After business cycles dominated by manufacturing might, distribution strength and information technology expertise, empowered customers are disrupting every industry, according to Forrester.

To help providers better accommodate these rising expectations, CarePayment created an easy-to-use web-based tool for early activation. It allows front-line staff to immediately verify patient identity, which reduces medical fraud and downstream collection issues. The system automatically generates a letter for the patient about the financing program that includes a customized estimated balance and minimum payment information. They then receive a CarePayment welcome email with instructions about preregistering and setting up a profile. Previously, patients were not contacted by CarePayment until after their bill had been adjudicated.

CarePayment’s consumer research also reinforced many of its existing strategies. “Patients told us to continue co-branding with providers, because that gives them more trust in the program while improving their perception of their providers,” Garnier says. “They also endorsed our use of clear, easy-to-understand information, no hidden financing traps and multiple ways to sign up, pay and manage their accounts, from paper and phone to online and mobile.”