With patients bearing more of the responsibility for healthcare payments, healthcare organizations are looking for ways to make it easier for patients to pay, thereby improving collections and decreasing the time and resources it takes to collect payments.
Healthcare payments landscape
More than $2.7 trillion of healthcare payments are made in the U.S. annually, which represents one sixth of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Direct patient-to-provider payments represent $326 billion.1 According to a McKinsey & Co. report, about 35 percent of a provider’s total revenue will come from patients.
Collecting payment for healthcare services is a labor-intensive process and timing is critical. The healthcare payment process typically involves interactions between multiple parties, often after the service has been provided. As the time from the patient visit grows, patients become hard to contact and harder to collect from.
In traditional methods of payment acceptance, the healthcare worker takes a co-payment onsite prior to the doctor visit. The patient is billed for the remainder of the payment. A healthcare worker will phone and mail statements regularly to try to collect payment from the patient. Types of payment include co-pay, deductible, pre-and post-service expenses, and prescriptions to name a few. For the most part, patients pay by cash or check. Electronic payments, such as credit card, debit card, and ACH, offer patients greater convenience and providers benefit as well. Accepting electronic payments can increase accuracy and shorten the payment cycle.
Patient-focused payment technologies
In conjunction with accepting electronic payments, practices can adopt new “patient-initiated” payment technologies that help capture more revenue and collect payments more efficiently. These technologies include:
Patient payment portals allow patients to securely log in to a web site to manage their accounts. They have immediate access to their account information and can self-manage their own bill payment. Patients can initiate real time payments or easily setup a recurring payment cycle using credit cards, online debit cards, and ACH.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) facilitates text to speech, speech recognition and speech enabled actions. IVR systems can automate many of the routine and repetitive calls made by a provider, such as balance due reminders.
Kiosks serve a variety of purposes and streamline administrative tasks. Using a touch screen, patients can self check in, update personal information, make co-payment and deductible payments, and more.
- Mobile phone payment processing provides a simple way for patient payment scenarios that are needed outside of a standard healthcare check in environment such as bedside and emergency room payments.
- Tablet-based healthcare payment solutions are moving towards combining collecting patient healthcare information and a simplified co-payment.
When looking at new technologies, providers should consider the following:
- How the solution integrates into existing infrastructure and work flow
- Is it easy to use, thereby increasing the probability of adoption
- Does it comply with regulation and securely protect patient privacy
New Technologies – One Solution
The ability to embrace change and adopt new payment technologies becomes more manageable with a comprehensive and flexible payment acceptance solution as the foundation. TrustCommerce’s integrated suite of offerings helps healthcare organizations accommodate their disparate payment sources. With an emphasis on customer service and the ability to customize solutions, TrustCommerce open-source payment solutions provide the assistance organizations need to manage complex legacy systems and explore emerging payments. TrustCommerce is integrated with leading patient management systems such as GE and Epic.
TrustCommerce Healthcare Payment Solutions allow providers to not only process standard credit card transactions but pass IIAS transactional data in order to accept flexible spending account (FSA) and health savings account (HSA) cards, while maintaining the highest level of compliancy and security.
To be successful, providers and health systems must evolve to keep pace with the rapid changes in healthcare. By implementing new technologies that include patient-initiated payment methods, healthcare organizations can speed the patient payment cycle and use human resources more efficiently.
1 Aite Group