At the Margins

What matters (and doesn't) in your patients' financial experience, according to our 1,000-patient survey

by Rachel Matthews

To offer a best-in-class patient financial experience, it's critical to understand the patient. Every patient comes with a unique financial perspective—differing needs and priorities that providers must navigate. In 2018, our research team set out to chart consumer financial preferences by surveying 1,000 adult patients who underwent a non-emergency surgery within the past 18 months. Our survey had two main components:

  1. We asked patients to describe their financial experience; and
  2. We designed a forced ranking exercise to identify which common financial tools patients most value.

Separating patients by payer type, we've created three distinct consumer profiles. Here are the key similarities you should know about them:

Everybody loves a pre-service bill.

Across all insurance groups, patients ranked pre-service bills as their number one or two preferred financial resource. In fact, 90% of survey respondents consider pre-care price estimates to be somewhat or extremely important. As a growing number of patients report anxiety around the cost of care, pre-care price estimates give patients the opportunity to budget for their future medical bill. In fact, our survey showed that patients are more likely to pay their bill in full within one month when provided a pre-care price estimate.

Patients want financial counselors at first point-of-access.

While all insurance groups ranked financial counselors as a top three financial resource, 56% of our respondents prefer access to a financial counselor prior to scheduling their procedure. This figure goes against the current most common application of financial counselors, who typically assist patients after they've received their bill. Introducing financial counselors early in the patient journey allows them to execute key patient interactions, such as assisting with patient price estimates and eligibility screenings, explaining payment options, and even requesting point-of-service payments.

Consolidated bills aren’t as essential as you may think.

Overall, our respondents were more likely to prefer a pre-service price estimate over a consolidated bill.

Although patients see the benefit of a single billing statement, it's clear they prioritize price transparency tools. That said, patients with lower out-of-pocket costs and higher financial stability (such those with Medicare or Medicare Advantage) were more likely to rank a consolidated bill as a number one or two preference.

Follow the patient financial journey—from pre-care through billing and collections

Follow the patient financial journey, from pre-care through billing and collections. Learn a patient's questions and fears that arise at each step, and what tools and support your revenue cycle program must proactively provide.

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