Diversifying revenue stream using patient payments

June 03, 2024
Business Affairs Health IT
Kristin Hess
By Kristin Hess

On February 20th of this year, Change Healthcare, the largest healthcare payment system in the United States, experienced a devastating cyberattack. This attack disrupted payments and claims processing nationwide, creating a significant cash flow crisis for healthcare providers. An AMA-conducted survey found that 80% of physician groups reported losing revenue from unpaid claims, and small practices were hit particularly hard. This incident highlighted the vulnerabilities inherent in relying solely on a single pathway for payment processing. The disruption not only impacted immediate financial operations but also exposed the broader systemic risks within the healthcare payment infrastructure. To address these issues, providers must explore the integration of additional safeguards and diversification strategies to enhance financial resilience.

In the wake of the cyberattack, healthcare providers have an opportunity to reassess how they manage revenue. Specifically, there's a growing recognition of the importance of direct payments from patients, especially as more people are enrolled in high-deductible health plans, which increase their out-of-pocket expenses. Offering easy and convenient ways for patients to fulfill payments is crucial for providers, particularly in times when insurance payments might be affected. Patient payments can help providers stabilize their finances and be more prepared for the future.
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Embracing diverse revenue options
By expanding to include a patient payment strategy, practices can have a diversified revenue stream that offsets potential disruptions and position practices for recovery.

The long-term benefits are clear. With frequent adjustments to insurance policies and reimbursement levels, focusing on the capture of patient payments allows for greater flexibility to maintain healthy Accounts Receivable levels with ease.

With a stronger financial foundation, providers can confidently invest in their workforce, technology upgrades, and overall patient experience. This enhances care quality and contributes to a healthier and more efficient ecosystem for providing care.

What should providers consider?

Evaluating internal processes
To get started with diversifying payment streams, providers need to investigate their current internal processes. It’s important to assess the current collection tools and consider modern alternatives that could enhance both practice efficiency and patient satisfaction. Equally important is ensuring that staff are well-trained on payment options and systems so that they can communicate and manage them with patients. This foundational first step ensures that new strategies are integrated smoothly and understood clearly across the board.

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