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Christina Rosario

By: Christina Rosario on April 26th, 2023

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5 Ways Medical Practices Can Ease Patient Financial Anxiety

Medical Billing / RCM

While medical professionals such as nurses and doctors are typically focused on the physical health of their patients, they also need to take into account people’s mental state as part of their overall well-being.

As noted by a report from Frontiers in Psychology, more and more healthcare costs are becoming the responsibility of patients rather than their insurance providers. 

Anxiety can center on whether a patient can afford to pay for care in the future, or generalized fear and distress stemming from their limited resources. Lacking sufficient funds to pay for medication, for example, can pose a serious risk to patients trying to manage their health when they are unemployed. 

Per Frontiers in Psychology, heart rate variability and cortisol levels are associated with worry and anxiety. Therefore, addressing the mental state of patients can benefit their physical health and can fit into your broader mandate to deliver the highest quality of services to those under your care.

With that in mind, here are five ways that medical practices can ease patients’ financial anxiety.

1. Check the Details About Costs in Your Electronic Health Records Software

It’s a trivial matter for healthcare professionals to glance at a patient’s records in their EHR or electronic healthcare record system. Here, you should be able to quickly check details on medication prices as well as the costs of various procedures and tests, as noted by a report from Fierce Healthcare.

This type of information is a starting point for estimating a patient’s share of the financial burden, which is why it is a useful option in EHR software. Knowing the financial ramifications of your diagnosis and treatment will help you see potential reasons for patients to worry about whether they can afford it. Then, you can make a determination about bringing up finances with patients in the examination room.

2. Bring Up the Topic of Finances With Your Patients

You may want to bring this up for all patients, and not just those whom you know or suspect may be facing financial worries. 

Simply ask patients if they would like to talk about the expenses of healthcare. Fierce Healthcare suggests that you could offer a “deferral strategy” to delay the most costly services if they are not urgent. An example would be putting off a test for the cause of pain with an MRI that has been troubling the patient for just a couple of days, to see if the condition resolves itself.

3. Make Estimates and Bills Easier to Understand

Patient confusion about their bills and what their responsibilities are can lead to more anxiety, according to MedCity News. They can grow wary when they see a bill and are not quite sure how your office calculated it. 

Determining their out-of-pocket costs and seeing if an insurance provider has met its obligations for their part of the bill can give them a greater feeling of control. In many cases, patients will be receiving multiple statements from different providers on separate dates, such as from a doctor’s office and a hospital, so it’s even more crucial to make the financial statements more comprehensible.

Look at the way your statements look now and see if there are ways you can redesign the bills so they can be understood at a glance. Also, make it explicit what the patient’s share is and what the insurance company’s share is for these bills. Finally, include information about options patients have for making payments.

4. Offer Improved Self-Service to Patients Paying Medical Bills

When you give patients access to self-service options for addressing their medical bills, they will feel a greater sense of control over the situation. This is especially true when your self-service options (such as through a patient portal that connects to your EHR) include an option to request financial assistance, per MedCity News.

Patients with limited resources will have a private and secure way to raise any concerns, and having this option to request help can motivate patients to actually begin a conversation with the billing team, instead of just ignoring the bills. The self-serve option helps take care of delivering patients the initial information, so your customer service team can devote more time and attention to the special details of each patient needing assistance.

5. Strengthen Your Customer Service 

It would be a good idea to invest more resources in your customer service professionals. Patients will feel less anxious if the customer service rep answers with a sense of empathy and can offer easy-to-understand advice about dealing with their bills and the responsibilities of payment. 

In fact, per MedCity News, for your revenue cycle management department, you will want to consider making customer service one of the higher-paying positions. This will go a long way toward improving patient relations and can have a positive effect on your revenue cycle, going forward.

It’s clear that helping ease some of the financial anxiety your patients may be experiencing will go a long way toward improving patient relations. This includes enabling them to come in for follow-up visits, make appointments and use various health services, from prescriptions to referrals to specialists. Easing anxiety can be instrumental in preserving their physical health.

Busy managers and owners of medical organizations may find that their limited time makes it more challenging to stay current on emerging healthcare topics. To help you and your team remain in the loop about news and commentary on a whole range of medical topics, subscribe to the blog today.



Frontiers in Psychology: Assessing Worry About Affording Healthcare in a General Population Sample

Fierce Healthcare: 3 ways physicians can address patients’ financial worries

MedCity News: When Cost Factors into Healthcare Decision-Making: 3 Insights for Healthcare Revenue Cycle

About Christina Rosario

Christina Rosario is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, a leading provider of healthcare IT solutions for medical practices and billing companies. When she's not helping ADS clients boost productivity and profitability, she can be found browsing travel websites, shopping in NYC, and spending time with her family.