Healthcare Consumerism and Reducing Bad Debt

Consumer confidence, household debt, inflation, and an ongoing pandemic are a few of the variables that impact how patients prioritize, engage, and respond to their bills. These problems are even more exacerbated by the fact that 50% of Americans now carry medical debt, which is up from 46% in 2020.

Providers must find ways to continuously reduce what flows to collections each day across their network or practices. The first step is understanding why patients don’t engage, fully pay their balance, or commit to a payment plan.

HCM has over 100,000 thousand conversations with patients each year. We track frustration, sentiment, and resolution within our Voice Analytics platform, powered by RingCentral.

Why patients don't engage

Our team identified the following commonalities within conversations with patients who didn’t engage and had previously had accounts go to bad debt.

  • Lack of awareness of the charges, bill, billing cycle, and options
  • Inability to commit to recurring payments (e.g. auto-pay payment plan)
  • Willingness to discuss more flexible low commitment options (e.g. paying $10 today)
  • Other household financial obligations and priorities

This chart represents the debt payoff priority being recommended by many credit improvement gurus.

More importantly, consumerism in healthcare indicates that patients are becoming more resourceful.

We already know that patients are looking for more time to pay. HCM clients have seen their self-pay A/R on payment plans increase up to 35% since Q1 2020.

However, others have learned how the collections process truly unfolds. There may be no impact on their credit, they could negotiate their balance down, and may even find longer-term payment options than originally offered.

Changing engagement with a call-to-action

The bottom line is that unengaged consumers generally require a call to action to change behavior.

That’s why HCM has developed solutions to do so through automated, omnichannel communications and a tailored patient engagement playbook. We create a custom playbook for each of our clients to drive alignment, increase patient engagement and satisfaction, and reduce our clients’ bad debt expense.

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