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Billing-Related Text Message Use Skyrockets 200% in Past Year

Analysis  |  By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   December 07, 2020

More patients are willing to jump ship to other providers in search of a better digital experience.

More patients than ever are using digital tools for healthcare billing, finds Cedar's annual Healthcare Consumer Experience Study, which was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They're also more willing to jump ship to other providers in search of a better digital experience.

Billing-related text message use alone has grown by over 200% in the past year, while email and patient portal use have grown by 82% and 34%, respectively. 

Despite these strides, the study finds that 31% of consumers don't think their healthcare providers have done enough to improve their patient billing and payment processes. In addition, 37% want touchless check-in.

"Exceptional end-to-end patient experiences are now the norm, and that's no exception for the financial journey," Arel Lidow, president and co-founder of Cedar, said in a statement.

The study also shows that 54% of patients have had a medical bill go to collections, citing the following reasons:

  • An inability to pay (24%)
  • Poor or outdated billing and notification processes (22%)
  • They think they were billed incorrectly (17%)
  • They found the bill too confusing (11%)

Overall, 90% of respondents express worry about rising healthcare costs over the next five years, and 84% are worried about paying their healthcare costs in the next year.

In addition to asking patients about their financial experience, the study also probed healthcare digital habits and preferences in general and found:

  • 28% of consumers have switched or stopped going to a healthcare provider because of a poor digital experience, a 40% increase from 2019
  • 49% wish their digital healthcare experience was smoother and more intuitive, like experiences with Amazon, Netflix or Uber
  • 68% say it is important to be able to customize their experience with a healthcare provider
  • 54% of respondents note that they consult online reviews to choose a healthcare provider, with 98% of them saying that those reviews are influential in some way 
  • 65% say that they would be very likely to recommend a healthcare provider or write them a good review if they offer a great digital experience
  • 53% of consumers would consider switching doctors to get touchless paperwork and virtual care, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

It also asked questions related to COVID-19, and revealed:

  • 57% of consumers have delayed care due to the pandemic
  • 44% of consumers would like a vaccine before engaging with care
  • 44% want telemedicine options (44%)
  • In light of the pandemic, 41% want digital communication and forms

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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