Self-service patient technology is the way of the future. Even so, it takes a strategy to back it up and be successful--especially when handling patient payments.
It should come as no surprise that healthcare technology is moving in favor of the self-service patient. Patient bases continue to be made up of younger generations who have grown up on technologies that serve their needs. Finally, healthcare is catching up.
Everything from appointment scheduling to making payments can now be done by the patient, totally online. First there were online patient portals that primarily served patients after a visit. Now there are patient-facing technologies that serve patients at every point of their healthcare experience--from scheduling to checking in to settling payments and managing care.
In terms of the bottom-line, where self-service technologies help most is in the ability of patients to make payments online. While these technologies enable a simple payment process, patients can’t be expected to participate if they are not empowered and encouraged to do so.
Here are some strategies that will empower patients to utilize self-service technologies to make payments online.
CLEARLY explain the benefits that THEY will see.
This is possibly the most important aspect of your empowerment strategies. Patients will not likely jump at the chance of making payments. So explaining how this will actually benefit them will help get them on board with your solution.
Benefits that patients experience when making self-service payments could include:
- Removes the burden of tracking down what is owed after each visit.
- Allows patients to better manage their healthcare finances and budget for visits.
- Many systems can offer a clear Explanation of Benefits that remove the frustration that patients feel in trying to figure it out for themselves.
- If a member of a family, patients can easily manage their entire family’s financial obligations, all in one convenient place.
- Self-service technologies give mobile smartphone applications so patients can track their data on the go.
Just to name a few.
EMPHASIZE security of the technology to ease fears.
Patients may state objections to using an online payment portal because they fear their sensitive financial data could be compromised. This is an easy fear to put to rest when you can prove the security standards that your technology lives up to. HIPAA compliance, PCI compliance, password protection, etc. are all security concerns that may arise. A strategy to use here might include a brief tutorial or demonstration of the security measures in place. Or maybe documentation that clearly states the processes and standards that your organization stands by in selecting technology.
The bottom line is that patients need to feel empowered and confident in making payments. Putting any fears to rest in regards to security will help you achieve those goals.
Put TRANSPARENCY first.
If patients have any doubts about using your online payment portal, a common reason could be your lack of transparency. Transparency is a pillar of patient communication in today’s healthcare economy. Patients expect to be made fully aware of every aspect of their care and are more engaged in their healthcare experience.
Ways that your organization can put transparency first:
- In any and all financial communications with patients.
- Provide a clear, accurate estimation of costs upfront so that patients can be prepared to budget accordingly.
- Listen. This is a very important step that is often overlooked or deprioritized in patient interactions. Simply listening to your patient’s concerns and providing proactive, helpful answers will help the case for transparency.
- Share stories of success and words of acclaim that your organization has received from other patients. This can remain confidential, but it helps to put a face to a name and see real people using the solution. Perhaps consider this strategy as part of your marketing materials--online, print, and in-office.
To get patients on board with paying their medical bills online, they must feel empowered to do so. Use these empowerment strategies to encourage patients to pay and set a precedent for your organization
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