From California to New York, health systems and hospitals have been cracking down on elective procedures and limiting who has access to in-person health care. A stimulus package Congress approved included billions of dollars to treat coronavirus patients and help facilities recover lost revenue from the cancelation of procedures. But hospitals have repeatedly said that it’s not enough to make up the losses throughout the crisis. “Let’s be clear, elective surgeries are the lifeblood of many, if not all hospitals” according to Mary Dale Peterson, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. These procedures provide valuable funding that helps hospitals pay staff and keep their doors open.
Although it may seem that every health care worker is on the front lines fighting COVID-19, many medical professionals have been waiting to get back to work due to the suspended elective services and procedures during the shutdown. Now that the number of new hospitalizations and deaths from the virus is starting to drop, health facilities are determining safe ways to resume elective procedures and patient appointments. But this doesn’t come without the economic and financial shock that health providers and patients will have to overcome.
According to a recent TransUnion Healthcare survey, more than one in four patients said they had an elective surgery, appointment, or procedure delayed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And of those patients, nearly 50% indicate they will only reschedule once they feel it is safe to do so. Not to mention the financial impact many patients have experienced throughout the crisis may halt the ability to afford procedures previously scheduled as well as future procedures.
With a fixed cost of care that can be often exorbitant for patients, there is little room to negotiate to make procedures more affordable. Cost of care is steadily rising and patients are responsible for more of their final bill, causing more people to skip treatment altogether or stick hospitals with unpaid bills. Healthcare finance at its core has a cost and affordability problem. Cost seems to be without a doubt, the main challenge with healthcare in America, however, affordability is something that is skipped over quite often. It is affordability that helps alleviate the pressure of cost for the consumers. But throughout healthcare organizations, lump-sum payment requirements and inflexible payment plans remove the flexibility that would make the cost of care more affordable and boost patient demand.
So how will hospitals be able to address patient financial responsibility and increase patient demand to become financially healthy during these challenging times?
Innovative healthcare providers are leading the way by adopting cutting edge financial technologies that acknowledge the cost burden and create financial flexibility for patients. And in return, they are seeing increased revenue and greater patient satisfaction.
As elective procedures ramp back up, health systems will need to continue to adapt financial technology and put their patients first. Thankfully for providers, there are now ways to address the patient affordability gap, while simultaneously receiving funding within 24-48 hours. Throughout the pandemic, health providers and patients have experienced severe financial strain. Going forward the only option as a provider is to address both sides and leverage the power of a true non-recourse patient financing solution.