Patient Friendly Billing for Millennials (and those of us in the same mindset)
I’ll admit right up front, I am not a millennial. I’m sure that makes a few colleagues chuckle, but it puts this blog in perspective. I was recently conducting research for a blog on “patient-friendly billing for healthcare organizations.” What I discovered was a strong current referencing the influence millennials will have on purchasing--all purchasing.
Surprisingly, I found that I not only understood, but really appreciated millennial attitudes about many things, including how they want to be communicated with, and how they prefer to purchase and pay for healthcare.
Demographers typically categorize millennials as those individuals born between the early 1980’s and the mid 1990’s. Millennials are the most “wired” generation to date. They’re completely comfortable communicating and gathering information primarily with technology and gadgets. They shop more online, look to consumer opinions when making a purchase, and prefer online information and research to actually talking to a human. According to Pew Research, by 2019, the U.S. millennial population will outnumber the Baby Boomers by over a million. They will be, if they aren’t already, a significant consumer of healthcare.
Why would this matter when developing a “patient-friendly” billing solution?
A few questions millennials may ask when interacting with the healthcare process:
This is 2018 – why are you sending me a paper bill with a phone number for follow-up? This IS 2018, and technology is available to provide automated billing transactions. Paper mail is a novelty dominated by junk and ads. Email, text, and social media are not only more cost-effective but a better tool to reaching consumers – your patients.
Why should I pay this when I don’t even know what you’re billing me for? A survey by Transunion showed that in 2016, 74% of millennials failed to pay their medical expenses in full when first billed. That was up from 64 % in 2014. What changed? Well, millennials don’t pay their bills if they don’t understand them. A successful patient-friendly billing solution has to include automation and communication upfront which includes a clear explanation of the process, services provided, balance, payment options, out-of- pocket, etc. millennials, and most people for that matter, are more willing to pay in advance if it is clear what will be owed and what their options are.
Why am I getting a bill a year after I had a procedure or office visit? In addition to clear and concise communication it has to be timely. Baby Boomers and older generations are more like to pay a bill owed even if it’s delayed – because they pay their bills. Not so with millennials. If there was no urgency in getting the bill to them, then a majority won’t see the urgency in paying it.
How do I get clarification online, via a mobile app on my phone, or maybe a kiosk? How do I provide feedback about my experience? Although older generations may still want to call and have a conversation, many Baby Boomers and a majority of millennials want to leverage technology to gather information and find answers to questions. They don’t want to waste time in conversation. Additionally, they want to share about their experience, good or bad. Leveraging technology is a must when developing an effective patient-friendly billing solution.
Although there are many more considerations to be explored in developing a comprehensive patient-friendly billing solution, keeping millennials in mind will help build a strategy that is more broadly accepted, and better yet, will increase cash flow.