According to a March 2021 release by InstaMed, “Trends in Healthcare Payments Eleventh Annual Report: 2020,” payer trends in healthcare payments have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic compared with previous years. Despite this impact, the financial outlook remained positive for payers. This claim is backed by a sharp decrease in healthcare utilization in the past year, resulting in far fewer claims paid out to providers for typical patient encounters. The easing of COVID-19 restrictions did not substantially change this trend in utilization as the year wore on; however, these positives also point to potential financial issues.

With the drop in healthcare utilization, many payers may see an increase in member reimbursements due to the requirements of medical loss ratios (MLRs). While MLR standards vary between markets, they generally reflect the percent of premium income paid out in medical claims. As such, member reimbursements are projected to be high for commercial markets for the remainder of 2021.

Adding to this same data, more than 8.2 million people selected plans in the 2021 open enrollment period. Nine in 10 enrollees intended to continue buying insurance even after the individual mandate penalty was repealed. These trends point to the need for services to help healthcare professionals and patients understand their financial obligations and process payments with greater ease.

In response to the need for such services, one such company, MedEvolve, has launched its US-based Patient Financial Engagement Services offering aimed at helping physicians both improve patient experiences and capture more revenue. This new technology-enabled offering provides patient financial counseling for physician groups along with digital payment options and mobile engagement services.

With healthcare professionals and patients facing increasing difficulties amid continued growth of high-deductible health plans, or HDHPs, and greater patient financial responsibility, the need for technology-driven resources from companies like MedEvolve will continue to increase in importance. Securing technology to identify collectible balances, providing convenient payment options across a variety of platforms, and proactively following up via a patient’s preferred communication method will go a long way toward increased patient care and overall greater provider efficiency.