US Bank Survey: Consumers want digitized healthcare payments

The data: The pandemic spurred a surge in digital medical payments, according to a new survey from US Bank that was conducted on 1,113 US adults.

  • In the last year, 44% of consumers paid their bill at the doctor’s office, 28% paid through an online portal, and 23% paid via a mobile app—but still, over 32% paid by mail, and 21% paid via phone.
  • Compared with the year before, fewer people are now making in-person payments: The same version of the survey from July 2020 showed that 64% of consumers paid their bill at the doctor’s office.

Here’s a look at some of the survey key findings about consumer sentiment around digital payments:

  • Consumers think digital billing is easier to use. Around two-thirds of respondents used telehealth to receive care in 2020—and over half said they prefer the ease and safety of contactless, digital payment methods when paying for their care.
  • And they want more options to pay their medical bills digitally. 37% want to be able to pay via a portal, while 32% want a mobile app option.

The problem: As healthcare costs mount, the burden of medical bills weighs heavy on US patients—and that’s only being compounded by poor medical financial literacy and the slow-moving billing process.

The medical billing experience for patients is often inefficient and leads to non-payment. 71% of patients are confused by their medical bill, and 80% say they were slapped with a surprise bill, according to InstaMed’s 2020 Trends in Healthcare Payments report.

Patients have listed confusing medical bills as a top reason for delaying payment: 56% of patients who were late on a medical bill payment either assumed their insurance would pay for it or were unclear about how much they owed.

The opportunity: Healthcare providers that jump on the digital payments boat can help improve patient satisfaction (which can boost provider ratings) and collect revenues quicker.

  • They could lean on digital billing solutions like Cedar-owned OODA Health’s app-based platform, which helps brings greater transparency to medical bills by centralizing payments into a single digital space.

It’s important for healthcare providers to meet patients’ expectations considering today’s healthcare consumer opts for convenience over loyalty. About 82% of consumers want to make all their healthcare payments in one place, and 85% of consumers say they prefer an electronic payment method for their medical bills—yet most providers still send out paper bills.