BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- VisitPay, a market leader in patient financial engagement, has released a quantitative national study that distilled consumer behaviors into discrete segments, which health systems can use to tailor patient financial experiences to the needs and preferences of the patients they serve.
The VisitPay Report surveyed more than 1,700 patients across the nation about medical billing. Applying clustering and machine learning techniques to those data, the study identified five patient segments based on consumption habits, communication preferences and behavioral tendencies.
"For the first time, the finance team finds itself on the front line of consumer engagement and will need tools to navigate this new landscape. Understanding patient needs and preferences across the healthcare journey gets us one step closer to clinical and financial engagement," said David Kirshner, a former health system CFO and adviser to VisitPay. "With this study, VisitPay is bringing knowledge and techniques from other consumer-facing industries to healthcare."
The Challenges of Patient-as-Payer
The VisitPay Report is a response to the growing impact individual consumers have on health system revenue cycles due to rising insurance deductibles and higher out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Complicating these trends, The VisitPay Report found that the majority (56%) of patient visits—and resulting expenses—are unplanned. Although most patients prefer to understand the costs associated with healthcare, most providers (57%) don't make this information available. As a result, nearly a third of respondents indicated that uncertainty around cost would make them less likely to seek necessary care. Larger economic forces, including wage stagnation among the middle and working classes, have only made this problem more acute.
Providing patient tailored and consistent financial information throughout the care journey can alleviate confusion, reduce stress and minimize surprises. Helping patients anticipate, plan and pay for medical expenses will ultimately help build their trust and loyalty.
Financial Engagement Mapping
To personalize the patient experience and pinpoint key touchpoints across the care journey, health systems can now apply segmentation techniques refined by retail, consumer finance, hospitality and other consumer-facing industries.
The five segments created from The VisitPay Report are based situational factors, such as insurance plan and income, as well as age, behavioral characteristics and engagement preferences. They represent the best current snapshot of the American healthcare consumer from a financial perspective. Different patient needs will evolve with the larger healthcare industry and will be reflected in future iterations of the report.
The segments include:
Solo Strivers. Predominately lower-income, racially diverse females, most with children, under the age of 40. This segment has the highest percentage of bad medical debt and is more influenced by cost of care than any other segment.
Seasoned & Receptive. Mostly married and retired, this segment comprises many Medicare patients, who use liquid assets to pay for medical bills.
Overextended Achievers. This segment includes full-time workers between the ages of 40 and 64, and who bring home the highest income of all the segments. Most are covered by commercial insurance and pay their bills online, but many find themselves stretched financially.
Hearty & Carefree. This segment is made up mostly of low-income, single females under the age of 39 with low out-of-pocket healthcare balances. They tend to prefer less personal communication channels, such as the Internet, mailers and brochures.
Self-Sufficient Sages. This segment has the highest percent of individuals 65 and older, who are covered by Medicare or low-deductible plans and have little interest in financing options.
Notable about these segments is the fact that people can move from one to another based on life changes, such as a new job or an unexpected diagnosis. This fluidity is a major reason health systems need to educate all individuals about costs of medical care and present them with sustainable options to pay those obligations.
To make these segments actionable, the VisitPay Report proposes a technique to localize the national segments with a health system's own patient records. Using key financial indicators and applying classification modeling, segment-based strategies can be activated through payment platforms, such as VisitPay, to increase payment yield, build trust and improve the consumer experience.
"It's clear that most health systems are still struggling to adapt to the patient-as-payer era," said Kent Ivanoff, CEO and Co-Founder of VisitPay. "This report represents the cornerstone of an evidence-based framework for understanding how different populations consume and pay for healthcare. Integrating behavioral insights with tried-and-tested tools, like financial scores and segmentations, enables health systems to devise granular engagement strategies at the level of the individual. This is an essential capability to compete and thrive in the patient-as-payer era."
Founded in 2010, VisitPay is the leader in patient financial engagement. The company's third-generation cloud-based platform is used by the nation's largest and most innovative health systems to deliver transparency, choice and control to patients managing healthcare payments and transactions. Through VisitPay, patients can access a comprehensive accounting of their financial obligations, as well as critical health plan and healthcare information, via a health system-branded portal. VisitPay's proprietary analytics tailor consistent and fully compliant financing options that meet the unique needs of patients and their families, creating a simplified billing experience that drives both higher payment rates and improved patient satisfaction scores. VisitPay's investors include Norwest Venture Partners, Flare Capital Partners and Ascension Ventures. For more information about VisitPay, visit www.visitpay.com. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Visit our Company Blog to access case studies, thought leadership and news.
Amendola Communications for VisitPay