By Marty Brannon, Director Technical Operations, iVitaFi
In today’s environment of high deductible healthcare plans and low collection rates, healthcare providers turn to outside services for help. In many cases, this means they turn over collection responsibilities to a third party who may not uphold their standard of care in dealing with their patients.
In my role at iVitaFi, I am responsible for the borrower experience. I help our borrowers with everything from customer support to loan servicing and collections. Our team draws on more than 25 years of experience servicing healthcare receivables. And lately, I have been asked how my role has shifted due to the pandemic. And while it is true that mindsets have shifted and new tactics had to be applied across the board, my duties have not changed, and patient collections during COVID are as important as patient collections pre-pandemic.
With considerable input from providers, we have built a patient collections solution for patient collections during COVID in healthcare that is compassionate, flexible and oriented around listening to our borrowers. We take pride in providing an outstanding patient financial experience—one that helps patients pay for the care they need, regardless of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the timing.
Why is this so important? Because 60% of patients who have trouble paying their medical bills say they have put off or postponed needed care, 41% did not fill a prescription, and 34% skipped doses of their medications or cut pills in half. When this happens, patients can experience deteriorating conditions, and increased readmissions or visits to the emergency room. This can result in increased costs, poorer outcomes, and reduced patient satisfaction.
We understand that every interaction we have with our clients’ patients is a direct reflection on that client. Even one negative patient engagement can impact the provider’s brand reputation—especially since consumers are more likely to post negative online reviews than positive ones. Therefore, we adopt a patient-centric approach that closely aligns with the client’s culture and mission. We strive to treat our client’s patients just as they would. Because of our expertise in patient collections during the COVID pandemic, we know how to treat patients with compassion, dignity and respect.
Unlike others in our industry, our goal is to keep our borrowers for life, empowering them to use their healthcare line of credit as future needs arise. Our customer service team is specially trained to work through any points of payment friction a patient may have when paying for their care. We act as advocates in helping them through those potential obstacles, not adversaries just trying to collect regardless of their situation.
The proof is in the numbers. Borrower satisfaction scores for our program reflect our willingness and ability to work with them. Our team is proud that our borrowers consistently rated us 4.98 on a scale of 5.0 for being “likely to recommend to a friend or family member.” They have identified program features like “no interest,” “fast approval,” “easy to afford,” and “automatic payments” among some of their favorites. And these features have been part of our focus for a while when it comes to patient collections, and they should be renewed in our focus when dealing with patient collections during the pandemic.
Many borrowers draw on their healthcare line of credit multiple times for subsequent healthcare episodes. The revolving nature of our line of credit reaps dividends for our provider clients in the form of reinforcing patient loyalty, patient recommendations to friends and family, and the hospital’s brand reputation.
Flexibility when it’s needed most
Our borrowers enjoy a great deal of flexibility in how they repay their loans. We enable them to select payment dates that work best for them. This makes it easier for them to manage their household budgets and their healthcare bills. We also provide them the ability to set up automatic payments, which benefits both the patient and the hospital. For patients who have lost income due to the COVID pandemic, we provide a payment relief plan.
Let’s face it, patients need this flexibility when things are hardest for them, and this was the case for many during the COVID pandemic. Our goal is to keep patient collections during the time of COVID in healthcare (and beyond) smooth and efficient, without applying additional strain on patients.
No added cost to the consumer
This is where our program really stands out among our competitors. We believe it is unnecessary to add interest or fees on top of an already high medical bill. We pride ourselves on the fact that we never have hidden charges, ever. Our goal is to help patients afford and pay for the care they need, not to penalize them for needing to borrow, especially when things are hard enough due to the COVID pandemic. Patient collections during the pandemic should be approached with the same compassion and ease as patient collections any other time, if not more so. This approach helps improve patient satisfaction, brand loyalty, and the hospital’s bottom line.
Here at iVitaFi, we are pleased to do our part to help patients navigate and address the high cost of healthcare in a way that prioritizes their needs, so they can get the care they need. Our program completes a total wellness story for patients at our Provider client facilities. For more information about our healthcare lending program, visit https://ivitafinancial.com/for-providers/.
Contact iVitaFi today to learn how we can help patients navigate and address the high cost of healthcare in a way that prioritizes their needs, and makes patient collecting during COVID easier on you.
- “The Burden of Medical Debt: Results from the Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times Medical Bills Survey,” Kaiser Family Foundation, January 5, 2016