What Are the Latest Trends in Healthcare Payments?

Chris Seib is the chief technology officer and co-founder of InstaMed, a healthcare payment network used by payers, providers, and consumers. Before founding InstaMed, he was an executive in Accenture’s Health and Life Sciences practice. He been involved in strategic development efforts regarding government health initiatives, consumer-directed health plans, and direct connectivity between providers and payers. He is a named inventor of multiple patents and patent applications held by InstaMed.
The healthcare industry remains awash in paper, and the sector has been slow to recognize the demands on consumers or how much they expect their payment choices to match what they see elsewhere in their lives.
Healthcare was in the spotlight throughout 2016 as the country ramped up to Election Day in November. From the start of the Republican and Democratic primaries, it seemed like each candidate leveraged healthcare as a key campaign focus point. Despite all the political stumping and subsequent headlines, there was still no shift in the trend towards consumerism or any overwhelming sentiment within the industry about the election’s impact. In fact, survey data from LHK Partners shows that when asked about the impact of the 2016 election on healthcare, the response from providers was almost evenly split among positive, neutral and negative.
 
The data analyzed in the Trends in Healthcare Payments Seventh Annual Report: 2016 reveals that regardless of the political landscape, there are 4 areas that require the industry’s attention:
 
  • Consumers are demanding more from healthcare. The new reality in healthcare is that consumers not only owe more—in the form of deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and health plan premiums—but the amounts are higher than they ever have been before. However, many in the industry are slow to recognize the new role of consumers as an industry stakeholder. When consumer demands are ignored, the consequences are severe – irreparable damage to an organization’s brand resulting in lost patients and members, and ultimately revenue.
     
  • Omnichannel payments are impacting healthcare. What exactly are consumers demanding from healthcare payments? The data reveal that common assumptions are incorrect. First, consumers do not view healthcare as different from other industries. Second, consumers want multiple ways to pay their healthcare bills and premiums, just as they expect options for paying household bills. That means everything from paying online to making payments through their bank’s bill payment site. Third, and most surprising, consumers across all generations want convenience through online payment channels and electronic payment methods when it comes to healthcare payments.
     
  • Paper is hurting all healthcare stakeholders. Paper remains ubiquitous within the healthcare industry. The true costs of paper are hurting the entire sector, which continues to be burdened by high overhead and lack of resources. Forward-thinking organizations are looking to the untapped potential of electronic transactions to streamline and simplify healthcare payments, as well as satisfy the consumer demand for convenience in the industry. The industry needs to go paperless now more than ever.
     
  • Healthcare data is under attack. Any healthcare organizations unsure if their data are at risk should assume the worst. Ransomware is a rapidly growing threat that has proven to have the capability to paralyze an entire organization as seen in the recent attacks of WannaCry. However, ransomware is just one of many threats to data in the industry. The threats will only grow as the industry attempts to keep up with the increases in demands for a consumer-centric, electronic healthcare payments experience.
 
The Trends in Healthcare Payments Seventh Annual Report: 2016 is now available to download, free of charge. For the last 7 years, InstaMed has released this report to objectively educate the market and promote awareness, change and greater efficiency through quantitative data from the InstaMed Network and qualitative data from healthcare providers, payers and consumers surveyed nationwide.
 
Next, I will breakdown the trends from the report that explain consumer demands in the industry.


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