Advances in healthcare delivery have focused on giving patients more choices with the hopes that consumers will seek out the right care at the best possible value. But disparities in access to technology and discrepancies in healthcare payment models can often limit access to information, which leaves patients to make choices about which providers to see and when to seek specialist care without having the full picture. Healthcare organizations can help make the decision-making process easier for consumers by considering their complete digital patient experience and the disparities in technology and banking.
Healthcare systems can now advance their consumer experience by adopting models similar to e-commerce that enable patients to shop, check appointments and make payments digitally. These new systems create a unified brand experience across all of the patient’s touchpoints.
To create even better patient interactions, providers should consider writing scripts for staff members on some of the most asked and more complicated topics. Scripts can improve how frontline staff communicate with patients, from educating them on new digital healthcare tools to explaining how to navigate the complexities of health insurance and payments. Not only will thorough and consistent communication further enhance the patient experience, but it can boost a health system’s overall brand reputation.
Telehealth versus In-Person Visits
Since the onset of COVID-19, telehealth has assumed a more prominent role in the healthcare landscape. However, early assumptions about telehealth becoming ubiquitous are now being challenged by newer data. For example, many patients still prefer in-person medical visits despite the effort required to go to a provider’s office.
Many thought the rise of this digital tool would be more cost-efficient, ultimately helping to level healthcare inequities caused by differences in insurance coverage. However, digital health appointments still require access to digital money and a bank account. To bridge this gap, it’s essential that providers provide patients with the right combination of educational and payment tools. J.P. Morgan’s InstaMed tool, for example, provides one platform that connects consumers, providers and payers for healthcare payment transactions. InstaMed provides end-to-end payments and banking solutions for healthcare organizations and patients. Providers can personalize the patient payment experience with the platform’s digital billing solutions.
Digital Payment Strategy
Consumers continue to prefer digital payments that allow them a complete picture of their medical expenses. However, many older medical payment processes may have not been critically examined for systemic inefficiencies or inaccuracies for decades. Fixing this is partially a matter of implementing new payment technology, but it also requires rethinking the strained relationship between patients, hospitals and insurance companies when it comes to fee structure. Legislation like the “No Surprises Act” has changed the way fees are handled within in-network providers and out-of-network facilities, limiting unexpected patient billing when seeking hospital care. Before the legislation, patients may have unknowingly received treatment from an out-of-network doctor or specialist when seeking emergency care.
With gray areas in the digital payments space, healthcare systems should monitor the regulatory situation and rely on their contract relations teams who are building their digital payments to employ strategies that are agreeable to all involved.
Disparities in Technology and Banking
It’s important to be mindful of how payment disparities affect access to proper care and health resources, especially with different levels of accessibility to banking resources and technology. Digital healthcare tools can increase patient engagement, create great system efficiencies and expand options for consumers and providers alike. However, fully maximizing their effectiveness requires addressing the disparities that are keeping some customers from taking full advantage of modern payment solutions. Performing an internal audit and review can help identify any barriers needing to be addressed that may be blocking patients from equitable access to care.
Considering the multitude of factors that affect consumers’ decisions about healthcare is bound to help increase their quality of life and can also help improve the health of hospital systems. With consistent communication and an emphasis on embracing modern payment technologies, healthcare systems can provide patients with proper care management tools and a positive brand experience.
Kerry Jessani serves as the Head of Healthcare, Higher Education and Non-Profit Banking for J.P. Morgan’s Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries business. Kerry’s national team serves hospital systems, colleges and universities, and non-profit institutions across the United States, providing tailored financial solutions and access to J.P. Morgan’s global capabilities, including treasury and payment services, credit and financing, and asset management.