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Creating a positive financial experience for patients and healthcare providers

By Andrew Brown, Senior Director, Global Medical & Partnerships, Western Union Business Solutions, with Elizabeth Ziemba, President, Medical Tourism Training & Regional Director for Temos

The travel for medical treatment industry has a long history of delivering a concierge-level patient experience through facilitated access, coordination of care, and cultural sensitivity. Patients have sought out medical care at providers known for their uniquely high quality of care or specialization as well as their dedicated focus on creating a comforting journey from intake through service provision and post-discharge. Word of mouth and international accreditation organizations nurtured an interest in medical services that deliver a seamless experience for patients and providers.

Today’s medical traveler has urgent health, safety, and financial concerns during this COVID 19 era, and providers must redouble and truly demonstrate their commitment to meet and surpass those expectations if they are to attract and retain clientele. While providers are endeavoring in earnest to reassure patients around clinical standards of care, the myriad pain points around sending and receiving funds from abroad have been historically and begrudgingly tolerated and remain largely unaddressed. International accreditation programs address various aspects of international financial best practices for their accredited hospitals and clinics to meet but more can be done to educate clients as well as patients to remove obstacles in the payment process.

Delays and difficulties in the payment process have routinely added anxiety around financial clearance for initial care and subsequent services, account closure, and refunds where applicable. These roadblocks are dissonant and disruptive to the overall effort to create a truly special patient experience and have taken on critical importance in these times to set a truly secure and seamless financial experience through their entire care journey.

Patients complaints around processing their payments are frequently centered around these key 5 areas:

  1. Home Currency: Inability to pay without unfavorable exchange rates, high transaction fees, and amount limitations

  2. Timing: Unsure of their payment whereabouts and when payment will arrive and if in full

  3. Customer Service: Lack of communication about owed balances, account assistance, and status

  4. Choices: Lack of online options to pay by credit card, banking portal, or wire transfer

  5. Refunds: Lost in mail, unable to cash, bank deductions, and delays

Providers similarly endure the following operational challenges that further degrade the overall impression of care:

  1. Reconciling: Time-consuming to find and match payments to patients

  2. Medical deposits & receivables: Inability to financially clear for care and settle final balances

  3. Medical payables: Inability to process quick and effective refunds to patients and send vendor payments

  4. Tracking<