The medical sector is currently experiencing a rapid shift toward greater patient fiscal responsibility, meaning healthcare practices are struggling to collect patient payments. Industry initiatives are laying the groundwork to prioritize patient collections over government and commercial payers.
This adjustment to the revenue cycle must focus on convenience and patient preference. With patient collections accounting for more than 30 percent of industry revenue, it is crucial for healthcare providers to integrate advanced payment options into their system.
The following six technology-driven payment solutions will incentivize patient payment, making it easier to collect debt through the patient’s preferred payment method. Providers who choose to integrate these advanced payment technologies will experience an increase in revenue through patient collections.
Card-on-File Patient Payment
Among all payment options a healthcare organization can offer, research shows that a credit-card-on-file (CCOF) may be one of the best. The number of patients who indicate they would be comfortable paying medical bills of $200 or less with a pre-authorized card-on-file surpasses 75 percent. Medical providers have a significant opportunity to reduce the cost of billing and collect patient payments through a CCOF program. This payment option can both reduce the number of days in patient AR and positively impact revenue cycle management.
“A comparison of our recent studies indicates a strong need for digital payment options to improve patient collections processes and increase patient satisfaction. The organizations that can fully embrace digital payment options, such as credit card on file [and] automated payment plans… stand to benefit the most as healthcare consumerism continues to impact the industry.”
~ Phil Dolan, Chief Marketing Officer, Navicure
Difficulty paying healthcare bills has adverse effects on both patients and providers. Not only do unpaid bills delay the hospital’s revenue collection, but out-of-pocket-costs can dissuade patients from seeing a doctor entirely. In 2019, up to 33% of Americans reported that either they or a family member had delayed treatment for a medical condition because of costs (that’s the highest this percentage has been in at least the last 20 years).
A payment plan option can help alleviate patient anxiety, ensure stable revenue collection, and build trust between both parties. Most importantly, a payment plan can re-introduce consistency into your institution’s billing cycle by decreasing the number of late payments.
A quick response code is a type of bar code that easily scans with a smartphone or other mobile device, usually individualized for a specific action. When being used to make payments, scanning the QR code automatically brings up the payment page or patient portal so patients can verify and pay their bill in a matter of seconds. Because nearly every smartphone comes with a QR code scanner in the device camera, this method allows patients to make fast and secure payments at any time.
Mobile payments have increased dramatically in recent years because of security and convenience. In fact, 20% of healthcare bill payments are made from a mobile device. Mobile payments allow patients to self-manage their medical bills without the hassle of creating an account and logging in every time. They can also make payments on-the-go or during any time of the day.
The use of patient portals increases patient satisfaction and engagement. These offer many functions that give patients an expanded view of their health, along with a convenient way to pay their bill. Research shows that over half of all patients prefer electronic billing options along with the benefits of a patient portal. Electronic bills and online payment options eliminate confusion created from receiving multiple paper statements, resulting in faster patient payments. This also saves healthcare organizations money in postage cost and environmental waste while positively impacting the overall revenue cycle process.
Text-to-pay programs piggyback off the simplicity and convenience of mobile and card-on-file payments. It is a cloud-based, patient-centric platform that allows patients to easily pay their medical bills on the go. The integration of this secure and powerful system allows medical staff to engage patients with a simple text message, which is exactly what patients want. In fact, 89% of consumers want to use text messaging to communicate with businesses. Patients who are reached in their preferred method are much more likely to make the requested payment.
Although these simple, technology-driven payment solutions seem like a no-brainer, most healthcare practices are lagging in implementation.
Medical providers have a significant opportunity to drastically increase patient collections while positively impacting the revenue cycle. Simply offering these payment options creates convenience, security and clear communication with patients.
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Hugh Sullivan is the CEO of MailMyStatements, an industry-leading healthcare billing, and payments company. He has over 25 years of experience as a seasoned healthcare executive, was the co-founder of ENS Health — a highly successful national healthcare electronic data interchange company, and has served in various leadership roles within Optum, a UnitedHealth Group company. Considered as an industry thought leader, Hugh is an expert in using health IT to improve healthcare information exchange, which can enhance the quality of care, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
You can follow Hugh on Twitter @hughdsullivan