In recent years, electronic tools and technological innovations have fundamentally changed the nature of health care—including how providers handle payments for their services. However, many of the solutions that are supposed to make A/R management easier are highly fragmented and inefficient—and they consume a disproportionate share of healthcare dollars compared to payments systems in other industries. According to the American Hospital Association, uncollectible healthcare services account for billions of dollars of lost revenue every year. And McKinsey reported that healthcare-related bad debt continues to rise with more than $65 billion in uncollected revenue.
Small to midsize practices are most affected by industry revenue loss.
Unfortunately, the practices most dramatically affected by these challenges are small, private clinics that have to deal with shrinking third-party reimbursements and the rise in patients with high-deductible health plans who have trouble paying for large healthcare bills out of pocket. That said, an integrated patient pay solution that’s designed to account for the complexity of our current healthcare environment can help providers resolve this collection dilemma—and improve payment reconciliation and overall operating efficiency. With that in mind, in today’s competitive healthcare marketplace, healthcare practices of all sizes must adopt an effective patient payment solution—if they want to:
- reduce write-offs,
- improve customer relations, and
- maintain a positive balance sheet.
Customer service matters.
Billing is an often-overlooked component of the healthcare consumer’s experience; while we all know that patient experience plays an important role in determining a practice’s success—as well as patient healthcare outcomes—many providers haven’t yet explored the impact of their billing process on patient satisfaction. In many cases, the patient has a hard enough time accessing care—without the additional burden of an unsatisfactory billing process. To be clear, the patient experience doesn’t end after discharge. There’s still plenty of room to win or lose a patient’s loyalty during billing and collecting.
In fact, customer satisfaction is often dependent on how a healthcare practice goes about collecting deductibles and copayments. When it is a hassle for patients to pay for care, they will either forgo treatment—or opt not to pay the bill. As a result, it’s imperative that healthcare providers meet patients’ demands for convenient, transparent, and reliable payment methods.
A comprehensive, intuitive patient financial portal can improve customer satisfaction.
To that end, the healthcare payment solution you adopt should have a comprehensive patient financial portal that is intuitive to customers’ needs—and the payment solution company should partner with you to provide patients with a bill that is not only easy to understand, but also easy to pay (with the click of a button on a mobile device, tablet, or computer). In my experience, one-touch bill pay on a mobile device is one of the most effective methods of collecting outstanding balances from patients who have the means to pay. Furthermore, all patient bills should provide a clear explanation of financial responsibility in an interactive format—with a flexible checkout process and payment plan options—and patients should be able to access the bill information across multiple platforms.
When shopping for an effective healthcare payment solution, look for one that has a proven track record of:
- improving patient collections;
- reducing outstanding balances and bad debt; and
- lowering transaction processing costs.
Ideal Payment Solution Functionalities
The ideal payment solution should also do the following:
- Automate the full patient information and payment flow process—from claims submission to the receipt of payments and reconciliation.
- Leverage technology to offer multiple payment options that expedite payment. (In this technological era, consumers are used to paying for their mortgage, car payment, and utilities online. Healthcare costs should be no different; having more options increases payments.)
- Improve office staff efficiency by removing the need to make calls, send letters, compile statements, create copies, and complete other administrative duties related to patient billing and collections.
- Reduce the cost of pursuing and gathering patient balances.
- Increase total practice collections by providing real-time patient balance amounts.
- Serve as a comprehensive point-of-service device.
- Securely store credit card data.
- Enable recurring payment plans.
That said, all the patient-facing benefits and features in the world won’t matter if the system isn’t easy for your team to use. That’s why it’s crucial that it also:
- has a simple, easy-to-learn interface,
- reinforces collection goals,
- reduces time spent training, and
- improves compliance with internal patient payment policies.
There are a lot of healthcare payment solutions on the market, but only the right one will have a significant and positiv e impact on your bottom line by addressing both customer and company needs.
What could the right solution mean for you and your practice? Are you using the right healthcare payments processing solution? Learn more about WebPT’s solution here.