As consumers become one of the largest groups of payers in the American healthcare system, choosing the right patient finance vendor becomes crucial for hospitals and other healthcare providers. One of the most important criteria when evaluating vendors is compliance. These finance companies not only need to navigate all the relevant regulations in healthcare, they also need to adhere to to a wide range of consumer financial laws. Here are 5 compliance issues providers should carefully consider:
1. Compliance Fluency
When a vendor offers a payment plan to a patient, there are conditions where it will be subject to certain financial regulations. For example, a payment plan longer than 4 months must adhere to rules set by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau because it qualifies as a loan. They may also have to comply with the Truth in Lending Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and even HIPAA. Since complying with these regulations will affect the provider's ability to get paid, it's crucial to work with a vendor that has expertise in these laws.
2. Charter Check
A finance vendor for a healthcare provider will work with a banking institution to secure funds, and that institution is subject to state or federal charters. Banking partners who operate under some state charters are not subject to the same strict regulations as federal ones, meaning their practices could be more risky. Healthcare providers should evaluate the regulations for each type of relevant charter and figure out how much risk they're willing to take.
3. Stringent Compliance Oversight
Patient finance vendors with a compliance culture in place are best positioned to meet regulatory requirements. They will help their clients develop and maintain a consistently updated and clear credit policy. They will perform non-discrimination testing and ensure there are protections in both front and back-end office procedures. The vendor will also have a strict review process for its marketing materials as false or misleading advertising can be considered a serious violation.
4. Focus on Patient-Provider Relationship
The goal of any healthcare provider looking for a finance vendor is to improve the relationship between caregivers and patients, and the vendor should share that mission. A patient who has a bad experience with their financing will likely develop a negative view of the clinical experience as well. Providers should look for vendors that will allow them to maintain their own identity when communicating rather than displaying the vendor's. Patients who feel that their health is being put front and center will be the most satisfied.
5. Patient Engagement
While patient finance vendors are looking to make a profit, their interactions with customers shouldn't be all about collecting a bill. Instead, they should be promoting patient health through regular communication about ongoing financing for checkups and treatments. In conjunction with the patient's doctor and other caregivers, the vendor should be looking to provide solutions, not harass patients with financial worries.
With more and more consumers paying for medical care, there will be a greater number of patient finance vendors advertising their services. If providers do their research, they can find a financing company that presents little risk and maintains the patient-provider relationship. A good vendor will partner with the doctor, hospital, or other provider to deliver the best possible care to the patient.