A recent survey by TransUnion Healthcare of insured consumers found that those who had positive billing and payment experiences with their providers gave higher marks for care received than patients who had issues with their billing. The survey also found that consumers who experienced problems with healthcare billing used non-critical health services, such as regular check-ups and preventative cancer screenings, at a lower rate than consumers who did not experience negative billing issues.
These results make sense, from an intuitive standpoint, but it’s interesting to actually see survey data to support what many would have already assumed. In many cases the last point of contact with a care provider is the billing information provided to the patient. Often that information includes insurance information and if it’s what a patient is expecting then a positive glow is cast over the entire process. If it’s not what the patient was expecting, especially if there are problems where a patient is expected to pay more, or to contact the insurance company herself, then the patient is disappointed and would naturally feel worse about the entire process.
“Our research suggests that patient experiences with billing and payment play a critical role in their overall assessments of providers, the quality of care they receive, and even their decision to seek certain types of care,” said Milton Silva-Craig, President of TransUnion Healthcare. “As the healthcare market enters a period of unprecedented competition, it is imperative that providers consider all aspects of the patient experience and its impact on their position in the market. The results of this survey underscore that health providers need to recognize the impact of their patients’ payment experiences as an important element in total customer satisfaction.”
Nearly 70% of survey respondents who gave the highest ratings to their quality of care over the past two years also gave high ratings to their billing and payment experiences, compared to only 24% of those who gave low ratings to their quality of care. Similarly, 76% of those who gave high quality of care ratings also said they had a clear understanding of costs at least some of the time, compared to only 52% of those who gave low quality of care ratings.
Survey respondents also indicated that clarity of costs and billing are factors they consider in choosing care providers and insurance plans. Two-thirds (67%) said that receiving clear information on expected out-of-pocket costs before receiving treatment would have a positive impact on their decision to use a provider, and 65% said that clear, easy-to-understand bills would do the same. Sixty-one percent of respondents also reported that cost information at the point-of-service would positively impact their decision to seek non-critical care like preventative screenings and annual physicals.
“We know from our work with providers across the country that a clear, transparent and surprise-free patient payment experience can have a significant positive impact on the revenue management cycle,” said Silva-Craig. “These insights suggest that such experiences cannot be disregarded as factors in patients’ overall assessment of care delivery. This consideration will be particularly important for hospitals and health systems as patient satisfaction ratings become key elements of government reimbursement formulas.”
In an effort to provide the healthcare industry with a smarter patient access process, TransUnion Healthcare recently launched ClearIQ. The exception-based automated decisioning platform provides, among other things, patient payment estimation, insurance eligibility and benefits verification information upfront, making a patient’s first point of contact in a hospital faster, easier, more accurate and friendlier than ever.
The online survey included responses from more than 700 insured household decision-makers who had either personally received medical care, or had a family member on their policy receive care in the past two years. The survey took place from March 28 – 29, 2013.