Every day the world is changing around us. Lawmakers pass new laws, innovators invent game-changing new technologies, and the business realities that have become commonplace transform into distant memories.
While it may sound cliche, we live in a fast-paced world, and keeping up with all the changes can be incredibly difficult–and for busy healthcare providers, it can be especially challenging.
Between treating patients, keeping schedules on track, collecting payment, and everything else going on behind the scenes, physicians and practice managers have their hands completely full. It's hard enough to keep your practice running smoothly–there just isn't enough time in the day to spend significant time learning how to optimize your practice!
With that challenge in mind, we are excited to present The Peachy Library, an educational vehicle aimed at helping healthcare providers improve their bottom line. There are serious flaws in the current payment collection process and exciting opportunities available for physicians to increase their profitability by embracing mobile billing and payment systems.
But before we get into the details of how you can take your practice to the next level, we feel that some introductions are in order. We need to introduce you to our founder and CEO, Lex Oiler, because to help you understand just how passionate we are about helping physicians implement a better, more profitable solution to bill payment, we need to tell you her story.
Lex grew up in suburban Ohio with hard-working parents. They were the kinds of people who paid their bills on time and tried their best to be frugal and responsible. They were normal people, just like the many patients you treat daily.
Unfortunately, when Lex was in high school, she got sick and had to spend six weeks in the hospital. Even though Lex's parents were responsible, hard-working people, they weren’t prepared to deal with a mountain of medical bills. And they especially weren't ready to deal with those enormous, unexpected medical bills during an economic downturn and while also dealing with the loss of a job.
Eventually, the bills and hardships piled-up a bit too high, and this well-meaning, hard working, family had to file for bankruptcy.
Wake-up call #1: Responsible people aren't immune from the effects of medical debt.
Like many others, Lex had always thought that bankruptcy was just for irresponsible people that didn't pay their bills and racked up too much credit card debt. This experience, however, was a huge wake-up call for her, as she started to realize that financial struggles connected to medical bills, like bankruptcy, were often not the product of poor planning and irresponsible behavior.
Wake-up call #2: Paying medical bills is way too complicated.
Years later, Lex received an alert from Credit Karma that her credit score had dropped because a medical bill had to been sent to collections. The year before, Lex had given birth to her son, and apparently, she had somehow missed a bill. The amount of that bill? A meager $44.
She was bewildered. She didn't even know about the bill! Maybe it got lost in the mail, or was one she threw out thinking it had been covered by insurance, or ignored because...mail. Nobody called, emailed, or texted... She wasn't the type of person that purposefully didn't pay her bills. She could have paid the bill and would have if she had seen it!
But the bill got lost in the shuffle.
Things got even more frustrating when Lex tried to pay that bill. With credit card in hand, she called around, but couldn't figure out who the debt belonged to.
A few years later, in July of 2020, determined to get the bill removed from her credit report, Lex made seven calls, trying to find the owner of the debt and get it resolved. Because the bill had been sold between agencies, she never was able to find the owner of the debt. But lucky for her, she found a collection agent who was requested a courtesy removal and in November 2020, more than four years after the $44 bill was sent, it finally fell off her credit report. Her credit score improved 78 points.
At this point, Lex experienced a second wake-up call, as she realized that paying medical bills is way too complicated and that it costs doctors significant revenue. The current system is broken, Lex began to think. It shouldn't require a call from a debt collector, or an alert from Credit Karma, for a physician to get paid. It shouldn't require a phone call or a stamp and envelope to pay a bill. It should be easier.
Lex's doctor hadn't been paid for a bill that Lex was willing to pay, and now Lex's doctor would never see all 44 of those dollars. A significant portion of that bill would go directly into the pockets of debt collectors. She began to see that even patients who wanted to pay their bills–and in many circumstances could pay their bills–could still get caught up in a medical debt spiral. And these realizations told Lex that patients needed a better solution.
Wake-up call #3: The flaws of the medical billing system are income-agnostic.
With this issue at the top of her mind, Lex began digging deeper into the medical payment space, trying to learn why the current process was so convoluted. She imagined that there must have been some "good" reason–that some regulation was keeping things this way or that some entrenched powers that were resistant to change. But as Lex kept digging, she soon realized that this was a solvable problem- it just wasn't an urgent problem for providers to optimize this experience because *historically (*you know, a few years ago before high deductible plans were the norm, and we didn't have record amounts of under and uninsured Americans) most of that responsibility fell on insurance providers.
There was a better way, and somebody just needed to build it.
Continuing her research, Lex chatted with a friend, who divulged that he too had similar experiences with medical bills going to collections. His wife had cancer, and they often travelled for months at a time for treatment. By time they got back to their home address, bills had piled up, often already in default, and having been through the cycle of trying to pay numerous times before, he decided that, "I don't have enough time with my wife left to spend it on the phone with debt collectors." He was financially able to pay the bills–hell, he even offered Lex a large sum of money that day just to go work on this, she declined, but it was the first time her idea was validated with real money–but the logistical process of actually getting payment to the doctors was just too much of a hassle.
As Lex learned about this experience, a third wake-up call knocked on her door, as she realized that difficulty paying and tracking medical bills wasn't just an issue for those on the lower end of the income spectrum. This meant that doctors weren't just missing out on payments from lower-income patients, who might not have the funds to pay their bills, but that they were also missing out on payments from patients who could pay their bills without a second thought. Lex recognized that this couldn't be a sustainable model for healthcare practices–there needed to be a better way.
And with that, Peachy was born.
What is the overarching problem?
In the United States, there is a mind-blowing amount of medical debt–$81 billion of it as of 2016. And this problem isn't exactly trending in the right direction. Over the last decade, patient responsibility has grown significantly, and over one five-year period, from 2012 to 2017, it nearly doubled.
And this directly impacts physicians’ bottom lines. As patient responsibility increases, each clinic's ability to collect payment from their patients become increasingly important.
Historically, doctors' primary response to payment collection problems has been to work with a debt collection agency, but as patient payment collection becomes a larger portion of their revenue, utilization of debt collection agencies becomes less feasible. This is because debt collectors are actually pretty terrible at collecting debt...
Research has shown that debt collectors' recovery rates for non-hospital healthcare providers are ~22%, and when factoring in the debt collectors’ typical 25%-50% contingent fees, doctors are in a precarious position. Essentially, they can count on only seeing ~10-15% of all their bills that they send to collections. And LOTS of bills get sent to collections, as one in six people have medical bills in collections.
Factoring in the providers who don't even send bills to collection agencies, the actual average healthcare provider only collects 6.06% on the dollar for true-self pay and 15.51% for out-of-pocket costs after the patient’s insurance plan.
And when you compare that number to the 74% of insured Americans who are both willing and able to pay them? There's a gap that needs addressed. Doctors deserve better for their hard work.
How is Peachy going to help solve this problem?
Peachy helps providers get paid faster by offering patients a quicker, easier, and more affordable method of payment.
Peachy's foundational product, Peachy Pay, harnesses SMS and email messaging to help you easily reach patients and simply inform them of their bills. Then, Peachy Pay allows patients to pay from their phone by simply clicking a link–no need to download an app or call your office, just click and pay!
Peachy Pay also help patients set up simple payment plans, because payment in full over six months is much better than the 10-15% you can hope to recover if you outsource collection to a debt collector.
Finally, Peachy Pay helps you incentivize payment in full while also helping your patients improve their financial health. By reporting paid bills to the major credit bureaus, Peachy Pay makes every paid bill beneficial for both patients–in the form of a growing credit score–and providers–in the form of a growing bottom line.
As Peachy helps providers implement this solution, we recognize the importance of teaching and researching the best practices for healthcare provider collection systems. And that's why the The Peachy Library exists–because as we seek to solve the medical bill collection problem, we want to help doctors' offices come out the other side more prepared to take their practices to the next level.
We invite you to join our email list to get a monthly wrap-up of all the educational content that we're developing, as well as important announcements on product launches and updates. And if you're interested in learning more about Peachy, you can request a demo here.