The landscape of behavioral healthcare in the United States is laden with obstacles and difficulties, especially for patients. Accessing healthcare presents particular challenges to those needing mental health services, and even when available, understanding and affording it often present obstacles to those seeking treatment.
Healthcare costs, and paying for them, pose obstacles for patients and for providers alike. Patient financial engagement is a frustrating, opaque process for the average American. Transparency and education – and a willingness to discuss financial responsibility before treatment begins – lead to greater patient financial responsibility and patient satisfaction.
The American healthcare system is a nightmare for most patients. Navigating healthcare costs is almost impossible due to the lack of transparency, changing insurance fee schedules, and a general lack of financial knowledge among patients.
Technology has changed how almost every industry operates, and the change has been rapid and far-reaching. Healthcare is no different. In general, people are resistant to change on both individual and institutional levels. Usually, a law must be implemented and enforced, or a strong incentive offered to get large groups of people to change how they do things.
The American healthcare system is touted as one of the best in the world, able to provide treatments and medications that are not possible in other countries. However, accessing that superlative healthcare is not easy for the average American, as social and economic barriers to healthcare access prevent all but the wealthiest and best insured from enjoying the full spectrum of available services. The behavioral healthcare industry is no exception to this.
Healthcare, including behavioral healthcare, is a highly complex environment for patients and it normally does not deliver a pleasant patient financial experience. Complicated bills, mountains of paperwork, and no one is there to help you navigate the chaos; and then there are the collection calls.
Obviously, Healthcare needs a new playbook when it comes to patient financial management. Unfortunately, in most healthcare companies there is no patient financial management department, or even a Director, manager, or Vice president of Patient Financial Management. In more simple terms, healthcare is broken down into three segments, admission, clinical care, and billing. Each segment has a primary objective, unfortunately being responsible for the patient’s financial experience isn’t one of them. If no one within the healthcare system owns patient financial management from start to finish, the patient financial experience will always be something less than.
This bears repeating: good patient financial experiences should be standard practice. Currently, they are anything but standard.