From telehealth to public health data reporting, patient-centered initiatives are at the heart of almost all the disruption we’re seeing in healthcare. The same goes for billing. 

Patient-centered billing is nothing new. Providers have done an overall solid job in changing billing practices via tactics like estimates at the time of service, bills that are easier to understand, and collection practices that aren’t as aggressive. But this isn’t to say we don’t have a long way to go. 

One of the greatest areas of opportunity is getting ahead of surprise billing trends. If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve regularly seen stories covering healthcare billing practices. And they’re seldom good. Patients around the country are tired of going in for healthcare services and afterward being met with bills from multiple providers – some of which they’ve never heard of. 

As consumer awareness of the negative impact of these practices increases, I believe it is an opportunity. 

Patient consumerization already has healthcare consumers engaging with providers much the way they do brands in retail and finance. We live in a time where your local hospital is on much the same level as the bank around the corner or a favorite shopping spot at the local mall. This means that your billing practices (especially your approach to surprise billing decisions) are directly connected to your branding. 

Unfortunately, providers aren’t looking so good. Last year, news broke of payers and providers looking for flexibility on the surprise medical bill ban. This means that a lot of providers are starting from behind. But you can make up ground. 

By taking an approach to billing that looks at it as part of your marketing and patient engagement strategy, you can stand out in an area where patients are suspicious and looking for more. For many providers to access this kind of insight, they’ve had to look into outsourcing, since often, internal culture doesn’t encourage a new way of doing things. Every organization is different, but whatever way you go about making change, just make sure you stay focused on your patients and their relationship with your brand. It’s where the future of medical billing services is headed. 

The news is constantly featuring stories for patients on surprise billing problems and as consumer awareness increases (especially of providers trying to avoid accountability), so will the connection between billing practices and branding. Providers should consider their billing practices part of their marketing and customer strategy and plan outsourcing partnerships accordingly.

Hemant Apte, Chief Executive Officer in

Hemant Apte, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of 3Gen Consulting, is a seasoned executive leader with deep domain expertise in US healthcare management practices. He founded 3Gen Consulting in 2006 and has been instrumental in offering thought leadership to his clients and providing services and solutions that are unique in the market.

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