Rising Patient Responsibility: Dermatology
We’ve written at length about the rise of patient financial responsibility in health care, due to the increasing prevalence of high-deductible health insurance plans over the last decade. So far, we’ve discussed trends in cosmetic surgery, substance abuse treatment, dentistry, and behavioral health. For the last in our series, we’ll take a look at the medical specialty of dermatology.
Dermatology fast facts.
Dermatology is a medical specialization that is worth approximately $12 billion a year in the U.S. alone ($20 billion globally). What makes it unique is that dermatologists make-up only a very small overall number of the total medical doctors in this country (10,000 or about 1%), so they are consistently very much in demand. The overall dermatology market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.73%, ultimately reaching $33.7 billion in 2022. Much of this growth is being spurred by increased awareness of skin cancer, as well as the popularity of cosmetic dermatology, i.e. anti-aging treatments and procedures. As would be expected, the vast majority of cosmetic dermatology is not covered by insurance and must be financed directly by the patient.
Current trends in dermatological practice.
A 2017 survey published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologists noted several influences impacting the ways in which dermatology is currently being practiced across the U.S. Technology, unsurprisingly, was the number one factor. For instance, teledermatology is becoming more common, with its overall use trending upward from 7% to 11% over the course of just two years. The implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) also increased, but even more dramatically so — from 51% in 2011 to 70% in 2014.
A secondary factor was a change in the setting/environment in which dermatology is being practiced, with many more dermatologists working in group practice vs in solo practice than in previous years. There could be a number of reasons for this, but it’s quite likely the ability to spread out financial responsibility among multiple doctors, ultimately stabilizing the practice over the long term, even if one is having a down month (or three), is the key to this trend.
Utilizing technology to help patients and create a financially stable practice.
The dramatic rise in dermatologists’ use of EHRs has meant the faster and easier processing of claims, meaning providers are paid in a more timely manner than ever before. When used in concert with specialized EHR integrations, the process can be simplified and expedited even more so. For instance, Aquina’s Via integration allows providers to be paid immediately when processing claims, decreasing gaps in revenue. Additionally, our Curae solution gives patients more options to easily finance their own treatment — even when the treatment is cosmetic or elective — as an “invisible” part of the intake process, making it easier for them to say “yes,” to offered procedures. Both of these integrations utilize currently-available technologies to speed up and simplify revenue collection in distinct ways, strengthening practices’ bottom lines.
Curious to find out more about our Via or Curae integrations? Simply visit Aquina Health today to get started.