The dynamics of expectation in patient collections

The patterns of patient collections can often seem difficult to predict, largely because there are factors in play – externalities, to borrow the language of economists – that simply don’t exist in other sectors of the American economy.

These externalities are made more complex by overlapping and sometimes competing expectations. Patients’ expectations as healthcare consumers are informed by their more general expectations as consumers – yet patients also have an expectation of privacy, expertise, and transparency that is unlike anything they bring to the table when making other major purchases or shopping for other types of services. Consider the myriad methods of online and mobile payments available – which are only beginning to make their way into healthcare. Or patients’ desire for easy, convenient electronic access to their health records, including financial data – even as all Americans are increasingly aware of (and wary of) the risks related to healthcare data breaches.

The continuing nationwide shift toward high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) heightens these challenges. Whether for the newly insured, those who participate in their employer’s health plan, or long-time self-insured individuals, the balance of financial responsibility for everyday healthcare has swung round and landed squarely on the shoulders of patients, many of whom experience sticker-shock when they receive their billing statement.

To manage this sea-change, keep cash flow strong, and strengthen patient satisfaction, providers must now navigate an unfamiliar financial landscape, one that demands transparency, convenience, and a nuanced understanding of patients’ expectations.

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consumerization of healthcare, HDHPs, high-deductible health plans, patient expectations, ZirMed


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