Researchers Call for Move to Online Health Care Payment Systems

May 11, 2015 in News

U.S. health care consumers are increasingly frustrated by a billing and payment system that depends largely on paper and telephone calls, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, Healthcare IT News reports.

Details of Report

To compile the report, researchers talked to health care executives, commissioned a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults and reviewed about 34 million commercial health care claims in the Truven Health MarketScan’s 2012 commercial claims database.

Report Findings

The researchers noted that health insurers in 2013 conducted:

  • 15% of payments electronically; and
  • 27% of payment remittance advice electronically.

By contrast, the rest of U.S. businesses conducted about 43% of payments electronically.

The absence of electronic billing is a “critical bottlenec[k]” for the health care system, Healthcare IT News reports.


The researchers identified six principles to provide patients with a consumer-oriented experience:

  • Affordability;
  • Convenience;
  • Quality;
  • Reliability;
  • Seamlessness; and
  • Transparency.

To incorporate these principles, the researchers recommended accelerating the transition to a digital billing and payment system. Further, they suggested that the health care industry could make the payment experience simpler for consumers through online payment sites, mobile applications and aggregated billing.

Other recommendations for the industry included:

  • Embracing simplicity;
  • Increasing payment options; and
  • Partnering with nontraditional companies to help sidestep the claims process.

In a statement, PwC principal and customer leader Paul D’Alessandro said, “Health care companies must consider shifting from a business-to-business to business-to-consumer billing and payment approach.” He added, “Technology will play a significant role in creating ways to consolidate billing and payments, and mobile apps, online portals and other innovations should become more commonplace in the immediate future. For longer term solutions, the system should be redesigned to remove complexity and support a seamless customer experience” (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 5/8).

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