Making the Payment Process Easier for Patients
Written by Amy Morin
Making the Payment Process Easier for Patients
Many people are confused about their hospital bills.
Understanding insurance benefits, deductibles, and the variety of expenses can cause many patients to understandably feel frustrated.
A patient’s frustration and confusion can cost hospitals more money. Sometimes people don’t pay in a timely fashion because they aren’t sure whether they’re looking at a bill or just an explanation of charges, including.
There are several things hospitals can do to help patients understand their hospital bills.
Many people who receive hospitals are either elderly or seriously ill. Their ability to understand hospital bills may be limited.
Sometimes people don’t have enough time and energy to read all of the fine print. Therefore, making how much the patient owes crystal clear can really help.
It’s essential that statements are created in an easy-to-read format. It should include the payment amount and the due date clearly labeled. Also, make it clear where patients should send their payment.
Also, make it clear what the insurance company has already done. For example, tell patients that the insurance company has already paid their portion or tell the patient that the insurance company has denied the claim.
Often, patients aren’t sure whether or not the amount on the bill is their portion or whether it’s the total bill. Informing them clearly that you expect them to pay their portion of their bill can be helpful.
Use large, dark font for people who may have visual impairments. This can save patients a lot of time and frustration.
It can also be helpful to clearly show any account numbers that a person might need when inquiring about a bill. Provide phone numbers and information about how a person can get their billing questions answered.
Make it clear what patients can do if they cannot afford to pay their bill.
Encourage them to reach out for help rather than simply ignoring the bill altogether. If patients know they can make payment arrangements, they will be more likely to take responsibility for their share.
Tell Patients What to Expect
Communication can go a long way to putting a patient’s mind at ease.
Tell them what to expect in terms of other bills. Many patients expect to only receive one bill for their entire hospital stay.
For example, if a patient is going to be receiving bill for the hospital stay in addition to a separate physician’s bill and a separate laboratory bill, make sure this is clear to them.
Otherwise, they may become frustrated when they learn they still owe more money.
Provide an Itemized Bill
Including an itemized bill can be very helpful. Itemized bills can be a great way for to help patients understand how the hospital arrived at the final amount due.
If you don’t automatically include an itemized bill, make it clear how patients can request one. Many patients want to see the line by line items to ensure that they aren’t being overcharged.
Offer Information on the Hospital Website
In addition to making your phone number clear, direct patients to the hospital website. Include a clear list of frequently asked questions about billing. This can help reduce the number of phone calls the billing office receives.
Medical billing and health insurance issues aren’t likely to get any less complicated any time soon.
However, taking a proactive approach to helping patients understand the charges can go a long way to improving your hospital’s patient satisfaction.
About the Author
Amy Morin writes about psychology and business topics, such as mobile payments.
NHS staff face severe impact on mental health due to COVID
The decision to drop COVID-19 restrictions in England this month alarmed doctors in the National Health Service (NHS) while hospitalisations are on the rise. At the same time, hospitals have started cancelling operations again adding to the existing backlog of operations, which estimates say could take a year to clear.
Dr James Gilleen of the University of Roehampton and his Covida Project team are warning of the ongoing risks to the mental health of NHS staff, many of whom are traumatised from the first wave of infections. “As the UK continues to see COVID-19 infection numbers rise at a similarly alarming rate as those seen during the country’s second wave, it’s combined with a renewed strain on the NHS and its staff" he said.
The Covida Project is a digital tool created to assess the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline workers including NHS staff, the police and carers.
“Healthcare workers are already exhausted and burnt-out; they are traumatised from their experiences of working during the pandemic. During the first wave in May 2020, a study from the Covida Project found an unprecedented quadrupling of the number of NHS staff with high levels of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to before Covid-19" Gilleen said.
"Having the most severe levels of these symptoms was statistically linked to four key factors - insufficient access or pressure to reuse Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), insufficient workplace preparation, insufficient training and communications, and a higher workload. Staff aren’t just anxious, depressed and traumatised from being over-worked – it is from feeling unsafe and at risk."
The Covida Project found that almost a third of healthcare workers reported moderate to severe levels of anxiety and depression. The number reporting very high symptoms was four times higher than before the pandemic.
Gilleen adds, “With COVID-19 restrictions now fully removed in England, NHS staff face the daunting triple-threat of rising Covid-19 hospitalisations, huge backlogs of medical operations to clear, and the added expectation of large increases in winter flu, which is already being seen even now in summer.
"These difficulties are present at a time when the NHS is already under-resourced, impacted by sickness and/or staff being ‘pinged’ to self-isolate through the government’s track and trace app, and staff continuing to fear the daily risk of infecting family and friends.
"Together these are considerable psychological burdens and create a perfect storm for the mental health and well-being of NHS staff."
Gilleen says there may be worse to come, especially if new, more transmissible variants develop. "Previous research after other pandemics such as SARS has shown that residual mental health symptoms like PTSD can continue for years, so the impact of repeated waves over the long-term will be potentially catastrophic for the mental health of NHS staff.
He has some clear recommendations to protect the wellbeing of frontline healthcare workers. “To protect the mental health of NHS staff they must feel they are less at risk or in danger, have access to the required level of PPE, not be continuously over-worked, with better staffing, more opportunities for rest and space to share their stress.
"Despite this and similar findings from other studies, still not enough is being done to protect NHS staff mental health and wellbeing and we fear it will continue to suffer in the months to come. With this comes the real risk that large numbers of staff will burn out or even quit the NHS.”