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Problematic Medical Bills Drive Consumers To Cut Back On Care

Posted on November 7, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

As we all know, patients and families are taking over responsibility for a steadily greater percentage of their healthcare costs over time. Not surprisingly, this can affect their medical decisions in negative ways. In fact, a new study has documented that their medical bills are confusing or unexpected, a patient may get overwhelmed and simply skip some forms of care entirely.

The study, which was conducted by Hanover Research and sponsored by HealthSparq, surveyed more than 1,000 Americans on their experiences with unexpected medical bills. The results should be unsettling to anyone in outpatient services, especially those in primary care.

Researchers found that more than half (53%) of respondents had received a surprise medical bill over the past 12 months. This included bills that were higher than expected (60%), for services they thought were covered by insurance but weren’t (62%) and from multiple providers when they expected to get just one (42%).

When faced with these frustrating billing situations, patients may drop out of their care routine to some extent. Many skip routine checkups (40%), routine health screenings (39%) or care for injuries (39%).

A substantial number of respondents (40%) conceded that they could’ve avoided such shocks by doing more to better understand their benefits and healthcare processes, in addition to blaming their insurers (45%) or their health providers (42%). Regardless, it appears that a large number didn’t know who was responsible for the problem, which doesn’t bode well for their future health behavior.

Look, everyone knows that offering an accurate estimate of patient financial liabilities could be a nightmare in some situations, particularly if insurance companies don’t play nicely with the billing department. It’s also true that in some cases, patients simply won’t be able to pay the bill regardless of how you present it, a problem you certainly can’t surmise on your own as a medical practice.

That being said, you can take a look at the bills your practice management system produces and get a sense whether they’re decipherable to those who don’t work within the organization. Even if the PM system does a good job of supporting your end of the process, that doesn’t mean it’s turning out bills that patients can use and understand.

Yes, arguably the most important thing a practice management system does is to support your claims process effectively, but seeing to it that patients aren’t overwhelmed by their bills is clearly a big deal too. Particularly under value-based care, you can’t afford to have them holding off on the services that will keep them well.

“What’s the Fix?” (WTF) Patient Conference is Back in 2018

Posted on February 2, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

When I first heard about the What’s the Fix? (or WTF if you prefer) conference, I knew that WTFix would be the most patient-centered conference ever. In its first-year HealthSparq and their team achieved this vision of a patient-focused conference in excellent fashion. So, I was excited to hear the recent announcement of What’s the Fix? 2018.

For those not familiar with WTFix, watch this video to get a feel for what went down at the first event:

I love that this year HealthSparq has partnered up with the Design Institute for Health at Dell Medical School to host the conference. No doubt this year will be more connected, empathetic, and vulnerable than ever. Plus, if you can’t make it to Austin, WTFix will be facilitating virtual attendance at the conference. This is great for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals that aren’t able to travel to attend the event but want to hear these amazing stories.

I’m sure many patients are wondering if they can afford to attend the event. Don’t worry about that. WTFix is Free to register! In fact, I know the organizers worked really hard to ensure their conference was Patients Included accredited. Seems appropriate for a conference that’s so focused on patients.

I really appreciate HealthSparq for bringing all of these patient stories to the forefront to remind us all of the important work we have to do. Check out the WTFix video section and the #WTFix hashtag on Twitter to get a feel for the community that’s forming. You won’t find a more passionate, caring, empathetic community than WTFix.