May 27, 2020

A New Payment Option for Patients in Temporary Financial Distress

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic circumstances unlike anything we’ve seen before. Many people have lost their jobs, some are the “worried working,” and yet others are on “financial hold” as they wait to be called back from job furloughs or for their industries to re-open.

This creates a unique challenge for healthcare revenue cycle management departments, which have traditionally used three categories to assess patients’ ability to pay: those who can pay in full, those who can be offered payment plans, and those who likely will need financial assistance.

But what about the new category of people whose finances may be in distress now, but could bounce back in the near future as economies re-open? It’s time to consider adding another payment category for these unprecedented times: a hold on payment status.

Using the hold status would mean that a patient who may be in temporary financial distress would be removed from the regular collection cadence until a later time. The “clock” of your standard collections procedures, in essence, would stop ticking. This would prevent undue financial burden on these patients, who may only need a few weeks or months to get back on their financial feet and continue making payments.

Communications with on hold patients should be done electronically, for greatest efficiency and the opportunity to provide clear, regular messaging about what the hold means, how long it will last, and when the next payment will be due.

Allowing these patients to have a hold on payments will continue to ensure a good customer relationship while giving your organization the opportunity to collect revenue at a later time. RevSpring data shows that when patients have income, the majority of them want to meet their financial obligations including healthcare-related payments.

Unique times call for unique solutions. Adding a hold status for patients struggling during these uncertain times could be the right thing to do, both for your patients and for your long-term revenue.