Amazon’s expansion into healthcare has certainly grabbed the industry’s attention. In January, the e-commerce giant announced a joint healthcare venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, then acquired PillPack – a digital pharmacy startup – for reportedly $1 billion.1
In CB Insights’ Healthcare 2025 research briefing, Amazon was ranked behind only Google as the tech giant expected to make the biggest impact on healthcare in the next decade.2 Industry experts believe a couple of areas where the Amazon model could shake things up are communications (billing, scheduling, data use) and product/service delivery.
Amazon enters the healthcare space knowing there’s plenty of room for improvement in the communications department. It’s safe to say that most patients have struggled to get through to a doctor’s office or their insurance company to receive help or information. And beyond that frequent disconnect, there’s often little coordinated communication between primary care physicians, specialists, imaging, laboratories, and the patient.
As the healthcare industry looks to fix some of those fractured communications, leaders can take inspiration from companies like Amazon and the systems that made them a distribution powerhouse. Amazon’s e-commerce expertise can serve as a learning opportunity to improve patient satisfaction and healthcare revenue cycles by addressing the administrative hassles, scheduling challenges, and billing roadblocks patients sometimes face.
Importance of quick pay. Amazon’s efficiency can be extrapolated to more seamless payment processes. The goal providers strive toward, after all, is making routine transactions reliable, quick, and easy. With more Americans receiving healthcare than ever before, patient engagement has never mattered more, and when it comes to a provider’s revenue cycle, great communication is essential in developing a patient payment strategy.
Given rising healthcare costs and patient responsibility, it’s important for healthcare organizations to understand today’s consumers and the latest trends in patient payments. In 2017, patients experienced an average 11 percent increase in out-of-pocket costs.3 With more patients struggling to reconcile these costs, creating a financial engagement system in line with today’s consumer expectations can benefit both the patient and the provider.
The main preference for paying a bill in the retail space is online, which is the same trend happening in healthcare. Providers are receiving 60 percent of their patient payments from online payment portals.4 Getting healthcare consumers to pay on time means giving them multiple payment options and clear instructions. On average, 37 percent of consumers pay on the first statement, 25 percent on the second statement, and 15 percent on the third.4 Healthcare providers can expect to collect payment an average of 21 days following the first statement.4
Price transparency. On Amazon, purchase prices and shipping costs are clearly visible alongside every product. Surprise costs and misleading language are quick ways to lose consumers. Bring that same price transparency to the patient’s bill by explaining charges up front. Determine opportunities to inform the patient of their financial accountability. By opening communication channels and engaging patients in billing strategies, providers are more likely to earn more frequent and complete patient payments.
Smooth website and mobile device interactions. Online retailers lead the way in easy-to-navigate, intuitive online experiences. Navigating the healthcare system can be confusing, but the portal where patients access their billing information shouldn’t be. Not only do patients want a smooth website experience, they also expect the same effortless experience on their mobile devices. According to the HIMSS Revenue Cycle Improvement Task Force, “Patients expect to be able to use their smartphone to determine the level of care available to them, to have pricing, quality and patient satisfaction information at their fingertips.”5
Become hyper-focused on the patient and what works for them to deliver better patient experiences and higher quality care.
April Wilson is Vice President of Marketing and Analytics for RevSpring
(www.revspringinc.com) , a company that provides patient engagement and billing solutions for healthcare providers. Since 1981, RevSpring has built the industry’s most comprehensive suite of consumer engagement, communications, and payment pathways that is backed by consumer behavior analysis, propensity-to-pay scoring, intelligent design, and user experience best practices.
4 RevSpring proprietary data