May 17, 2020

Making the Payment Process Easier for Patients

Admin
3 min
Hospital bills.jpg
Written by Amy Morin Making the Payment Process Easier for Patients Many people are confused about their hospital bills. Understanding insurance benef...

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.

Easy-To-Read Statements

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.

 

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

#Cybersecurity
#cyberattacks
#digitaltransformation
#covid19
Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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