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Transparency: Not great for your car, but ideal for healthcare

Invisible-Car-Patient-TransparencyAs a concept, transparency isn’t great for every situation. In your home, it’d mean your neighbors could see your every move (including “Downton Abbey” on your DVR, which would cause you men endless grief if you fessed up to watching). A transparent car? It’d be hard to avoid traffic accidents. A transparent mind? That’s pretty dangerous, especially if you have kids. Or a boss. Or a spouse. But transparency in the healthcare system is very likely a great thing, and it’s happening whether we like it or not!

A flurry of activity happened as 2015 came to a close. Open enrollment closed; health plan deductibles have now reset. Scores of patients switched to new health plans and may not even know how their portion of the cost of care will likely be impacted. Value-based care models continue to proliferate as quality and outcomes get measured.

As practice leaders complete their strategies for 2016, a key theme to address is transparency. In particular, cost transparency. Consider these points:

  • Requesting patient payments at time of service has never been more important, but if you do so, your patients must have confidence in their estimated cost of care.
  • Patients may be willing to pay their balance but want to know their card information is safe and secure, and that they’ll only be charged the agreed upon amount.
  • In addition to payment transparency for patients, you need it too. Business intelligence such as knowing how many patients required payment plans and how many patients paid via credit cards versus cash or check can be helpful in shaping your practice’s processes.

As your team prepares for 2016, celebrate all the great work you’ve done this past year! As you develop strategies for the year to come, be sure to include patient payment solutions and processes that a) give you transparency into patient payments data, and b) give patients greater transparency regarding their payment responsibility and options. 2016 is our year to embrace healthcare transparency and the benefits it can provide to our organizations and patients. Also, we can be thankful 2016 doesn’t mean learning how to navigate traffic with transparent cars!