It’s common to be frustrated by certain people’s stubbornness when it comes to receiving medical care. People may be afraid to know what’s wrong with them or hope that if they ignore the problem, it will go away.
However, there’s another often overlooked issue when it comes to medical treatment. Many patients aren’t sure they can afford it. Even if they have insurance, they generally don’t understand what’s covered.
The fear of being hit with a large bill can keep many people from seeking the care they need. Fortunately, you can improve patient care by increasing the awareness people have about insurance, how it works, and how they can obtain it.
Who Needs to Understand Insurance?
Both medical practitioners and patients can benefit from understanding insurance more clearly. However, current information is written in legal jargon and can be challenging to understand. That’s why additional education — aided by technology — is essential.
Health care consumers and medical professionals are short on time and often feel that they don’t have the hours it would take to understand coverage properly. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding not only causes patients to skip care, but it also doesn’t hold insurance companies accountable for providing adequate coverage.
Also, people often stay at jobs that aren’t good for their mental or physical health because of the employer’s health insurance. If these consumers were better-educated about the other options available to them, from public health insurance to the Health Insurance Marketplace, they would be empowered to make different choices.
Only when patients and medical personnel have a solid understanding of private and public health insurance can people confidently schedule appointments, receive care, and get the payment from the insurance companies that they deserve.
Where to Start
Where can you start when it comes to understanding the basics of insurance? Many health insurance requirements come from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that went into effect in 2010. The federal government has a website, Healthcare.gov, that can help people understand what’s required from insurance policies.
For instance, there is a list of essential health benefits that all insurance policies must include. There are also requirements for affordability, overall coverage percentages, and more.
The government website is a great place to start not only educating consumers but also holding insurance companies accountable for adequate coverage. You can use the information found there to help your coworkers and the patients of the facility understand their insurance.
It’s important to understand not only private health insurance plans but also public and Medicare-related coverage. For instance, knowing what Medigap coverage is and how it’s different from a Medicare Advantage plan can help older folks get better care.
How Technology Can Help
As a healthcare IT professional, what can you do to make a difference?
The first step is to advocate for better education and outreach materials. Even paper handouts at the checkout desk can help everyone better understand health insurance basics.
Secondly, think about how technology can be utilized in patient and provider education. What kinds of interactive courses can you create to get the message across? How can you use technology to deliver information in bite-sized pieces that fit your students’ time constraints?
Consider how current software can be used to give additional tips to patients and providers. Is there an online medical chart that could have a “Did you know” at the top? Are there current text message or email alerts that can have educational messages added?
Finally, think about how data from current patients can be used to research the most common insurance problems and find ways to improve care. Research and data can help you decide what issues need the most attention.
You Have a Big Role in Patient Care
As an IT person, you may spend more time with machines than people. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have an impact on improving patient care at your facility. When you work with your team to create and deliver essential education, you’re making a significant impact.
Technology is how information is delivered, and you’re on the front lines. There’s a lot you can do to make a difference!