SAN DIEGO, Oct. 21, 2014 – As more patients assume greater financial burden for their health care, progressive health systems are making care affordable, reducing collection costs and bad debt and increasing market share.
“Forward-thinking health systems realize that more of their revenue will come from the rising demographic of patients who need an affordable option to pay a higher balance-after-insurance,” says Mitch Patridge, president and CEO of ClearBalance®, the leading provider of consumer-friendly patient loan programs.
Organizations such as Novant Health, an integrated delivery system in the Southeast, are experiencing tremendous success with the ClearBalance Zero Interest Flex program. Novant Health has 14 medical centers and nearly 350 physician practices serving patients in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. The organization records annual inpatient discharges at 122,000, and 3.7 million patient visits annually. Novant Health converted from an interest-bearing program to the ClearBalance Zero Interest Flex Program two years ago and has since improved patient satisfaction, cash collections and market growth. According to Craig Pergrem and April York, senior directors in the Acute Revenue Cycle department, Novant Health reduced its recourse rate from 32% to an ongoing average of 9.6%, decreased payment plan collection costs by 20% and improved patient cash collections 15% as a result of cash acceleration.
“It’s much more cost-effective to use ClearBalance to help patients pay for their obligation than to handle it ourselves,” say York and Pergrem. “As a result, bad debt as a portion of net patient revenue has declined. Not many organizations can say that in today’s market.”
Another factor for Novant Health is the upswing in high deductible health plans (HDHPs) that ultimately transfer more of the financial burden to consumers. Novant Heath has seen an increase in patients with HDHPs for more than three years, Pergrem says: “It’s not unusual to see a patient with a $5,000 to $10,000 deductible.”
To help patients prepare for their financial obligation Novant’s pre-service and admissions team informs them of anticipated charges and when appropriate, explains the ClearBalance patient-friendly loan program. “The ClearBalance program gives us the ability to elevate our conversation with patients and gives them reasonable payment options,” York and Pergrem state. “Our patients are more satisfied knowing what they will likely owe ahead of time and our hope is they have a peace of mind to focus on their care and recovery.”
Novant Health is now focused on increasing market share. The organization recently formed Novant Health Shared Services, which offers select shared services, such as the ClearBalance patient loan program, to its health system partners. Novant Health is aligned with nine other health systems and a major physician group in the Southeast, including Memorial Health University Medical Center in Georgia, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System in South Carolina and Halifax Regional Medical Center and Cape Fear Valley Health in North Carolina.
“Establishing strategic relationships and extending benefits, such as the ClearBalance patient loan program, to our partners enables us to remain competitive and attractive to consumers who are evaluating hospitals based on cost, quality and convenience,” York says.
About Novant Health
Novant Health is a four-state integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient centers and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to our communities. The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,200 physicians and 26,000 employees who make healthcare remarkable at nearly 500 locations, including 14 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston–Salem, N.C., Novant Health is committed to making healthcare remarkable for our patients and our communities, serving more than four million patients annually.
ClearBalance is the leading provider of consumer-friendly patient loan programs to U.S. hospitals and health systems. Based in San Diego, ClearBalance has served 4 million patient accounts at hundreds of healthcare organizations nationwide since 1992. ClearBalance maintains the highest loan repayment rates in the industry. Our healthcare partners are able to significantly improve operating margins by increasing collections. They can also ensure a positive experience for patients who appreciate the ability to affordably repay their direct cost of health care.