Solution Perspective: Pre-Service Financing

Health systems, hospitals and physician practices are increasingly engaging patients in financial discussions earlier in the continuum of care. Conversations around cost estimates, financing options, and upfront payments are becoming more common prior to service. This is generally welcomed as cost of care is a primary concern and key to decision-making for many patients.

While pre-service financing poses several challenges and complexities, it also delivers many benefits. This CommerceHealthcare® Solution Perspective briefly explores why it is an essential tool for all providers.

Key Issues

The trend toward pre-service financing responds to a broader set of objectives, including:

  • Providing greater access to care. By removing barriers to care, such as affordability, providers can foster greater health equity and improve population health management.
  • Creating a better patient financial experience. Improving the patient financial journey is a key area of focus as the industry responds to increasing competition and heightened patient expectations.
  • Mending the financial condition of organizations. The coronavirus crisis has had a severe economic impact on all providers. Rebuilding revenue and conserving cash are imperative now.

The Pre-Service Need

These various forces have converged to place greater focus on the pre-service aspect of the patient financial journey. Healthcare organizations face constraints attempting to accommodate the wide array of financing needs presented at this stage. Many providers require help maximizing patient assistance while preserving economic health.

The CommerceHealthcare® Solution

Health Services Financing (HSF®) from CommerceHealthcare® helps providers offer patients a no or low-interest line of credit based on estimated out-of-pocket charges. Patients can receive financing with no credit check and through a contactless processing (phone or online). Especially in the current COVID-19 environment, patients can gain peace of mind knowing their monthly payment amount and the credit line are in place.

The process is straightforward and streamlined as displayed Figure 1. Estimated charges are offered, and appropriate payment options are reviewed. A patient’s verbal acceptance of this choice triggers enrollment using the estimated charge amount, without the delays of a credit check. Providers receive the full funding immediately, which they in turn post to the patient’s account.

What if final cost of care diverges from the estimate?

The CommerceHealthcare® open line of credit can be seamlessly adjusted without time-consuming involvement from internal staff. Figure 2 shows how corrective actions can be taken. Increased charges are added directly to the credit line, while overestimated costs initiate downward adjustment. Any transaction fee incurred for the overestimated amount is refunded.

Graph showing how pre-service and post-service payments work

Pre-Service Funding: A Win for All

This program is a significant addition to the financing toolkit and carries far-reaching benefits for providers and patients alike.

PATIENT BENEFITS

  • Clarity and peace of mind, knowing payment obligation with defined terms.
  • Streamlined process. No credit check and simple enrollment remove frustrations typically associated with the financing process.
  • Greater choice. Flexible loan durations and terms can optimize patient choice.
  • Vital financial support during challenging times for many patients.

PROVIDER BENEFITS

  • Maximum access. Providers can expand the number of patients who qualify for financing.
  • Improved operating margins and cash flow. Full, up-front funding accelerates cash flow, reduces receivables, and helps avoid bad debt.
  • Enhanced financial clearance process. Administrative items are resolved early.
  • Better patient financial experience. Promotes a compassionate experience that increases customer satisfaction.
  • Support for staff working from home via efficient and contactless process.

Conclusion

Pre-service financing can be influential to both patients and providers. HSF® can enable providers to engage patients earlier in the process. Patients can make informed healthcare decision with reduced financial concerns. Providers can improve patient satisfaction while also maximizing patient access, operating margins and cash flow.