The year ahead brings economic pressures for healthcare systems, but also fresh opportunities to improve revenue cycle management and the patient experience. Here at PayZen, we asked our team to predict the biggest trends that will affect providers and patients this year.
Affordability becomes front and center
“This year, we’ll see more urgency to solve healthcare’s affordability problem,” says Itzik Cohen, PayZen’s co-founder and CEO. “With high inflation, providers and patients are feeling the pain even more than before. The demand for personalized, flexible payment options will continue to grow dramatically.”
Tony Mary, VP of Sales, notes: “2023 is starting to smell a bit like 2008, when we saw hospitals’ bad debt collections rise astronomically. Hospitals will be taking stock of their new reality: sending more patients to bad debt, collecting less in bad debt, and seeing increased bad debt costs and expenses. Providers will be looking for solutions that will help them avoid reliving 2008.”
PwC research supports this sentiment: “The business environment of 2023 will likely force all health plans and health systems to confront affordability head on,” their report states. “They need to reshape strategies, reengineer financial and business models to aggressively deliver greater value—or others will.”
Meanwhile, Becker’s Hospital CFO report points out: “While healthcare has been referred to as ‘recession-proof,’ high-deductible healthcare plans and more aggressive cost-sharing mechanisms have exposed patients to costs, making them more likely to weigh them against other household expenditures.”
Amid this climate, Shiv Chadha, Director of Product Management, thinks that the winning healthcare affordability platforms will be those that help health systems, and patients, weather the financial downturn.
“Consumer financial pressures and recessionary factors will likely cause increased losses in patient revenue for providers and health systems—and, obviously, a material impact to patients’ wallets,” Chadha notes. “Hospitals and healthcare systems will expect their fintech partners to help them reduce these risks. Meanwhile, consumers will need more help paying their bills than ever—from charity and financial assistance to more affordable payment options.”
Expansion of healthcare consumerism
At the same time, patients will take greater control of their well-being. In 2023, we’ll see the continued rise of the empowered healthcare consumer.
“This year patients will be more active in the continuum of care,” says Tony Mary, VP of Sales. “They’ll be more involved in what type of care they choose, where they choose to receive the care and how they choose to pay. Hospitals will find that patients are no longer being pulled along the pathway—now, they’re taking on more responsibility for their care.”
Today’s healthcare consumers are more informed and skeptical than ever, according to Becky Kinsella, Director of Provider Success. “Patients are paying attention to the legitimacy of the products involved with their healthcare, including their payment plans,” she says. “In 2023, patient financing companies need to focus on strengthening the provider-patient relationship and delivering a positive experience that earns patients’ trust over time.”
Bill Kramer, VP of Marketing, adds: “This year will be about empowering healthcare consumers to pay their bills as easily as possible. Not just conveniently, but with financial ease – patients are rejecting predatory medical collection practices and interest charges in favor of more transparent, customized options. Affordability financing solutions will allow providers to meet these expectations while also accelerating cash flow.”
Embedded finance is coming to healthcare
Embedded financial experiences have taken off across multiple sectors. McKinsey Consulting explains that while retail chains, airlines and other industries have deployed private-label credit cards for decades, “What makes the next generation of embedded finance so powerful is the integration of financial products into digital interfaces that users interact with daily.” In turn, “acquiring financial services becomes a natural extension of a nonfinancial experience.”
Carry that into healthcare, and we’re set to see a major shift in the way patients pay their medical bills in the years ahead.
“Proactively offering affordable payment options, embedded in the experiences patients use today to view and pay bills, will have a material impact on providers’ collections,” says Tobias Mezger, COO of PayZen. “Partnerships are key to implementation and adoption of embedded finance in the healthcare sector.”
As an example, PayZen’s embedded affordability solution integrates seamlessly into EPIC’s MyChart app and Flywire’s patient payment portal, and its API-driven platform architecture allows embedded financing scenarios across the continuum of care.
Economic uncertainty, coupled with labor shortages and increased expenses, are set to profoundly impact hospitals and health systems this year. At the same time, patients will exercise greater choice over their medical care, while expecting more customization and flexibility from their healthcare experiences.
These shifts are here to stay—and providers must embrace this reality. By taking steps to de-risk cash acceleration and improve affordability, health systems can position themselves for stronger financial performance in 2023.