The last two years will forever be remembered as a turning point in public health. It was a time of new paradigms and “new normals,” when a novel pathogen forced the world into long periods of lockdown and unprecedented social distancing. Telehealth options emerged to fill a critical need during exigent times, and many of us had to learn to use vital new technologies like touchless digital payments, when paying in person or with traditional methods wasn’t possible.
This year, these pandemic-era consumer trends continue to turn budget-conscious patients into more discerning buyers of healthcare services. We are experiencing a rise in healthcare consumerism. Providers need to ensure that the patient is at the center of care – from the time they decide to seek it through their final payment. Every touchpoint between healthcare provider, administrative staff, and patient is a contributing factor in the patient’s overall experience.
This is a trend we’re seeing across all different age groups. Last year Synchrony, the financial services company where I head Health & Wellness, sponsored a consumer survey conducted by CWH Advisors. It found that healthcare consumers want their healthcare providers to share information about cost, payment products, and plan options before receiving care.[i]
Today’s patients are searching for tools to help them navigate higher costs and greater financial responsibilities while approaching their care with an increasingly consumer-driven mindset.
At the same time, though healthcare still often lags behind other industries, now more providers are accelerating their own digital transformations, including how they collect and manage payment for healthcare services.
Hospitals and health systems are recognizing the need for more integrated payment options, and are exploring ways to leverage technology to expand customer services and meet patients’ new and evolving needs and expectations. Simultaneously, healthcare providers are under increasing pressure to protect their cash flow and maintain healthy revenue cycles.
The idea of a dedicated credit card for health and wellness purchases, like the one Synchrony offers called CareCredit, is gaining traction. Our team is building tools, expertise, and resources for healthcare providers, so they can be well-prepared for increasingly common financial conversations about the cost of care and flexible payment options, as patients seek their best path forward for treatment and wellness.
Many of these patients are bearing the financial burden of high-deductible health insurance plans, large co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, and unplanned medical expenditures.
With increasing financial responsibility for their own care, patients are looking for healthcare experiences that mirror what they have become accustomed to in everyday retail and service interactions. They expect competitive financing options that are convenient, secure, reliable, flexible, and available in the palm of their hand, no matter where they are at that moment. Patients also have an emerging expectation that providers will be as informed about costs and payment options as they are about treatment decisions.
It has never been more important to build strong, trusting, transparent relationships with patients. Third-party patient financing options like the ones offered by Synchrony can be a key differentiator for healthcare providers, and an appreciated relationship-building tool for patients.
With more than 30 years in the business and the financial strength that comes from being a Fortune 200 company, Synchrony understands the needs of healthcare consumers and providers alike. We have consistently demonstrated a long-term commitment to our legacy, and to investment in advancing health and wellness financing solutions that meet the evolving needs of our cardholders as well as to those who provide them and their family a lifetime of care.
We aim to provide financing options that make payments simple and easy for all involved. It is our goal to help pave the way for new flexible financing standards to improve American healthcare.
Beto Casellas is an executive vice president and CEO of Health & Wellness at Synchrony
[i] CareCredit, CWH Advisors Patient Pay Survey Finds Majority of Patients Would Consider Financing Options to Pay Healthcare Costs, Synchrony, March 2021.