Key Takeaways From CareCredit’s Webinar on Patient Financing

April 15, 2021

On March 31, 2021, I attended CareCredit’s webinar on patient financing hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review. The presenters were Tim Donovan, chief marketing officer of CareCredit, and David Stievater, senior partner at Commonwealth Health Advisors

Tim and David discussed the record number of patients who faced financial instability throughout the last year, due to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic

Giving patients what they want

In the United States, a record number of patients faced layoffs and furloughs that impacted their insurance coverage and ability to pay for care.

Nearly 24 million American consumers have had higher out-of-pocket expenses compared to their income. The webinar dived into patients’ desire for more affordable monthly payments, greater cost transparency, digital payment tools, and willingness to consider point-of-service financing for their healthcare bills. Based on this, we will take a closer look at my key takeaways from the webinar.

Consumers and providers are challenged by the high cost of care

We all face cost issues in healthcare today. There are issues for consumers and issues for providers; rarely both. 

For American consumers, the high cost of care and higher out-of-pocket expenses force patients to make difficult decisions when it comes to their health. If they are unable to afford the upfront cost, unable to take on additional medical bills, or unaware of patient financing programs, they may not get the quality healthcare they need. According to CareCredit’s research, 73% of healthcare consumers fear being able to pay for care. 

Read More: Patient Experience Matters And the Pandemic Has Improved It →

Based on cost and patients’ financial fears, providers are often unable to give their patients the care they medically require and face issues receiving payment for everything from routine visits to life-saving operations. Consequently, healthcare organizations spend a lot of time and money on the collections process when patients are unable to pay. Open communication about the cost of care would help eliminate the financial burden on consumers and providers.

To alleviate the financial burden, healthcare practices could utilize bundled pay management software or value-based reimbursement software

Providers are searching for new products, as products in the Bundled Pay Management category have seen a 300% increase in traffic from March 2020 to March 2021. 

Bundled Pay Management Software ➜

Patients unhappy with lack of transparency

Healthcare consumers are demanding transparency and communication from providers. Many are unaware of the payment options available to them. CareCredit’s research shows that patients trust providers to handle their data and payment. This is a huge opportunity for providers to have greater transparency around finances and discussions about the cost of care and healthcare financing options. 

Conversations around patient finance can be awkward, but these conversations about the patients’ ability to pay need to be normalized. Providers should have multiple discussions about the cost of care throughout the patient journey—starting with the initial consultation, before the procedure, and post operation. 

Additionally, healthcare practices could provide online cost estimators and payment plan options for patients to review before making an appointment and throughout the patient journey. These tools should be public and easy to find and can help create transparency in the patient financing options. 

Pandemic-accelerated demand for digital offerings 

On, we have seen a marked increase in website traffic to payment-related software categories, such as Medical Billing Software, Patient Engagement Software, Healthcare Claims Management Software, and Bundled Pay Management Software, from March 2020 to March 2021. 

CreditCare’s research shows that patients are not satisfied with the current payment options, especially within the millennial age group, i.e., 18-34-year-olds. These healthcare consumers are looking for simple, easy-to-use digital payment tools that are mobile friendly and provide patient financing options. Similar to the use of digital health apps, such as Peloton or Headspace, and financial payment apps, such as Venmo and CashApp, consumers are looking for healthcare apps to manage the cost of care and payment options. 

There are many ways for people to pay—providing consumers with finance options upfront can allow them to decide what is best for them. 

Empowering consumers in their healthcare journey

Consumers have been frustrated with the lack of transparency on healthcare costs and healthcare quality. Selecting a healthcare provider should be treated as any consumer experience and consumers should be encouraged to shop for the best option at the best price. 

Consumers need data on which providers will be the best fit, including price transparency and doctor-patient relationships. Having the ability to search and select providers based on patient needs is a huge win for empowering consumers in their healthcare journey. 

Related: How Cloud Technology Facilitates the Management of Patient Care →

For healthcare costs to be more manageable, providers could also allow patients to pay for care over time and provide flexible payment options. This will lead to fewer collection claims and higher patient compliance to pay bills. Patients could also take advantage of external vendors for patient financing solutions. A credit card allows consumers to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by medical insurance with short-term financing options. No interest is accrued if the dues are paid within the promotional period. 

Paying for healthcare is not a one size fits all process--therefore, providing patients with options will empower them to make the best financial decision. 

What’s next?

As of January 2021, a new federal healthcare rule was set that requires hospitals to publicly post prices for all medical services they offer and break down those prices by component and procedure. The idea behind the Transparency in Coverage rule is to let patients choose where to go, considering the price. 

Consumers are willing to switch providers for a better experience. Providers should be mindful of overall patient satisfaction when discussing the cost of care. Patient experience includes billing and it would be a negative outcome if they are unaware of the cost and then receive a giant bill. 

In the last year, we had to reevaluate nearly every aspect of our daily life, including taking a critical look at whether our healthcare systems are working. To make informed decisions about physical, mental, and financial health, consumers need transparency and communication throughout the healthcare journey.

Find the best Health Care Software, here.

Key Takeaways From CareCredit’s Webinar on Patient Financing Due to COVID-19 and the rise in medical costs, there is an increased desire for healthcare patient financing options.
Rachael Altman Rachael is a research analyst at G2 with a focus on healthcare and education. Prior to joining G2, she has worked as an academic librarian and in research and business development at law firms, accounting firms, and nonprofit organizations. She has a BA and MA in English and Creative Writing and an MS in Library & Information Science. Outside of G2, Rachael is a career coach, yoga and meditation teacher, and jewelry maker.