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90% of Patients Say Loyalty Relies on Patient Financial Experience

More than half of patients said patient financial experience sways their loyalty and whether they recommend a provider to family or friends.

The patient financial experience and billing process is a make-or-break moment, with 93 percent of healthcare consumers saying the billing experience could dissuade them from returning to a healthcare provider, according to a survey conducted by El Studios on behalf of Cedar.

The survey of about 1,500 adult patients, which PatientEngagementHIT obtained via email, showed general patient satisfaction with the overall healthcare experience, with more than three-quarters of patients saying they’re pleased with their interactions with clinical providers and front office staff.

However, ambiguity with the patient financial experience and bill pay process are tainting patient satisfaction, the survey showed. Consumers said they often receive confusing explanations about their benefits or medical bills, the survey showed.

Particularly, patients are not sure how much they owe. Forty-one percent of patients said they are dissatisfied with their medical billing experience, and a significant proportion added they don’t have much price transparency or certainty. About nine in 10 respondents said it’d be helpful to have information about expected healthcare costs that take into account co-pays and other insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, only a third of respondents said their providers offer these estimates “most of the time” or “always.” Fifty-eight percent of patients said they’ve tried to get an out-of-pocket cost estimate, but of those patients, 40 percent said that information was hard to find.

Patients would be willing to pay a premium for this level of price guarantee, with many indicating a surprise medical bill makes for a particularly bad financial experience. More than three-quarters of respondents said they’d pay their out-of-pocket fees before their appointment if it meant they could get a price guarantee.

Things aren’t much better on the payer side; 40 percent of patients said they are dissatisfied with payer communication about medical bills and out-of-pocket costs. Patients also said they’d like payers to simplify medical bills, with 65 percent saying they’d like to view real-time benefits information directly with their provider bill.

Finally, patients expressed dissatisfaction with payer-provider communication, underscoring that poor communication can impact the patient financial experience. That is largely because the patient has to be the liaison between the payer and the provider, an onerous task that leaves 31 percent of healthcare consumers dissatisfied, frustrated, and confused.

Patient loyalty is at stake, the survey continued. Ninety percent of respondents said a good patient financial experience is a deciding factor for returning to a certain medical provider, and 96 percent said financial experience is key to overall health plan member satisfaction.

What’s more, when a patient has a good financial experience, that will likely spread by word of mouth. More than half (57 percent) of patients said they’d be more likely to recommend a provider to family and friends if the patient had a good financial experience. About a quarter of respondents said they’d leave a bad online provider review if they had a surprise medical bill or otherwise poor financial experience.

Creating a good patient financial experience is mission critical for healthcare organizations on a number of fronts. Beyond good patient experience and patient loyalty, creating a patient-centered medical bill will make it clearer to patients how much they owe, easing patient collections and supporting organization bottom lines.

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