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Patients warm to billing reminders via text messages

Article

Survey also reveals preference for online payment options

Woman looking at cell phone with stack of documents ©StockerThings -stock.adobe.com

©StockerThings -stock.adobe.com

Consumers say they’re more

open to getting digital reminders about health care bills and want providers to pay attention to their preferences, a recent survey suggests.

Patients say they’re increasingly interested in getting bill reminders by text, according to a recent survey of more than 1,300 people conducted by Salucro Healthcare Solutions, a health care payment technology company.

Well over half of the participants (62%) said they would prefer to pay their bills via an online patient portal, the survey found.

The survey found 59% of patients would prefer a text notification over a phone call or email. Last year, 45% said they’d prefer a text message. A slight majority of respondents (51%) said a text message reminder would prompt them to pay their bills more quickly.

More health care systems have been looking at ways of improving convenience for consumers, including in areas such as scheduling appointments and paying bills.

More hospitals are offering digital options to pay bills, but plenty of patients say they’re not seeing different payment options from their health care providers.

About a third of consumers (32%) said their health system offered an online payment option, up from 27% a year ago. And 11% of those surveyed said they had a text-to-pay option this year, up from 8% last year.

At the same time, 53% of those surveyed said their health care provider had not updated their payment communication options over the past year.

Many providers aren’t asking patients about their preferred method of getting billing reminders. Nearly half of the survey’s respondents (45%) said their providers didn’t inquire about the way they’d like to get billing reminders.

Woman looking at cell phone with stack of documents ©StockerThings -stock.adobe.com

©StockerThings -stock.adobe.com

Consumers offered mixed views about apps with payment and scheduling options. The survey found 35% said they love their apps for payment and scheduling, while 26% said they found the apps difficult to navigate, and 17% said their provider didn’t offer an app. More than 1 in 5 said they weren’t sure if their provider offered an app.

The survey also suggested that bad billing practices could have consequences. More than a third of the participants (36%) said they would consider switching health care providers if they have a poor experience with billing.

Clayton Bain, founder and CEO of Salucro, said that health care systems need to pay attention to the way they’re asking patients to pay their bills.

"Understanding your patients and their needs is a critical step for any health care organization looking to implement new solutions into their revenue cycle, and it’s more important than ever that the solutions to those needs sit within the context of existing provider workflows," Bain said in a statement.