Rise of the Healthcare Consumer: Meet the Need Today and Tomorrow

Patients, worried about the affordability of their medical bills due to rising costs and high deductibles are now intent on finding better ways to manage their healthcare journey. 

With access and affordability of healthcare the number one issue Americans worry most about, they are looking for understandable, personalized services. In one study, 92% of healthcare consumers said that improving customer experience should be a top strategic priority for providers.

Now, providers are facing the challenge to meet these consumer demands. In fact, 90% of patients no longer feel obligated to stay with a healthcare provider that does not deliver a satisfactory digital experience. 

How far can providers go in meeting patients’ demands? Good service may not be enough, when great service is needed and expected. 

For example, my kids won’t clean their closet. It’s tedious to clean out and organize, and to meet a new demand to keep it clean. I tell them, “Don’t shove everything under the bed or just move it off the ground to a shelf. Go beyond the minimum.” 

The requirement to “Go beyond the minimum” applies to providers tasked with developing new patient services. Halfway measures will not account for the expected changes to come. To take one instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) is proposing new regulations on pricing transparency for providers. 

Proposed fines for compliance are small at the moment, but someday that may change and providers may encounter higher expenses for non-compliance. Case and point: The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules, where this year the EU started imposing significantly higher fines (e.g. $228 million) to companies violating the rules. 

Don’t shove everything under the bed. Go beyond the minimum when your organization shifts to an improved patient revenue cycle and drive for patient satisfaction through the financial experience. 

The shift to patient-centric services has been evolving in plain sight, challenging providers to stay ahead of the curve of innovation. In July, CMS and President Trump released draft regulations aimed at ensuring patients can better understand the costs of their bills.

“Under this proposal, hospitals will finally have to make their real, negotiated prices known to patients, enabling patients to shop among providers,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “Healthcare leaders across the political spectrum have been talking about the need for real transparency for years. This proposal is now the most significant step any President has ever taken to deliver transparency and put patients in control of their care.”

Under the regulations, hospitals will be required to make payer-specific charges available for all shoppable services that a patient can schedule in advance. The aim of this proposal is to give patients the knowledge to be able to understand the costs of their care in the context of their plan benefits.

Providers will need to examine their revenue cycle management capabilities to see how far along they are on this path. Patients have always wanted these services, so why not exceed their minimum needs to meet demand, build loyalty, and increase revenue?