One of the most important trends in healthcare today is the inexorable shift towards high-deductible health plans. Over the past few months, my colleagues and I have analyzed tens of millions of visits to practices using athenahealth’s practice management and EHR services to understand the impact that this shift is having. We believe there are some reasons for providers and practice leaders to worry–the average patient obligation has increased by 20% over the past 4 years, and the number of patients carrying large balances is increasing as well. We have also seen that practices’ ability to collect these obligations is highly variable.
Across our network, patient payments provide nearly one-fifth of physician income, with the median athenahealth provider failing to collect 30% of what patients owe. And the situation is getting worse. As the graphic below shows, patient deductible obligations are up 22% in the past two years–while commercial payments have grown only 4%.
My colleagues and I have studied these trends, and we’ve identified a few things that top-performing practices do to ensure that they are able to collect the dollars that they are owed. In fact, at every step of the collections process–from scheduling to follow-up months after a visit–top-performing practices take a different approach than others. Please join us on November 11th to learn what these organizations are doing to improve patient collections, and how your practice can get to similar results.
Jessica Sweeney-Platt is a lead with athenaResearch