Nearly 50 million Americans live in rural areas and depend on their community hospitals for care. These hospitals, however, face significant financial challenges. If unaddressed, these challenges could jeopardize the availability of services at these vital healthcare organizations. To remain financially practicable, rural hospitals must build a culture of revenue cycle excellence.
Many virtues of telehealth are widely understood at this point but a perhaps lesser known emerging use for the platforms is to streamline the revenue cycle by enhancing billing and payment collections.
Keeping The Patient In Mind
Survival is the biggest challenge for hospitals today. Nowadays, collecting revenue from the patient is much different. It is especially different from collecting from the payer. Much of the patient portion is captured post-care, and what revenue cycle departments across the country are now dealing with is how best to collect that remaining balance. However, it is not an easy endeavor as some may think; Sometimes patients have no idea what they owe. Bills are often needlessly complex, and even if a patient understands their financial responsibility, they not be able to pay immediately, and so they put it off
Commenting on the potential of Telehealth, Dan Berger, national director at health financial technology company AxiaMed, says “What telehealth and other new delivery models have done is stumble upon potential fixes to these problems almost as if by accident.”
What Is Gaining Momentum?
The concierge medicine model, in which patients pay a monthly fee for premium health services, has not taken off to the extent that telehealth has. However, one billing concept that has contributed to the discussion of improving the hospital revenue cycle is the idea of recurring payments.
“Convenience has become so important that patient portals are not that successful, because someone has to log in to the portal to make a payment. Just to log in is a deterrent. What is successful is pay-by-text. You get a text message that says, ‘You owe this balance, would you like to pay now? His 1 to say yes, 2 to say no.’ Again, that requires the card to be on file somewhere.” Dan Berger.
These types of payment models are becoming more common, and in order for that billing scheme to work effectively, providers need to keep a credit card for the patient on file, along with a system that can send out the monthly bill with a reminder. It is also easier to accept payment plans when a card is on file, and plays into the convenience factor, saving consumers the step of having to actively log onto a patient portal to fulfill their financial commitments.
As generational attitudes start to shift in favor of technology and convenience, it behooves providers to provide convenience, clarity, and simplicity. With today’s reality being technology-centric, telehealth is providing hospitals with just that.
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