As high-deductible health plans are becoming the norm and patients face increasing responsibility for out-of-pocket costs, physicians must adopt patient-friendly payment practices. Providers are more likely to receive what is due if they expand payment options. Medical practices should implement consumer-driven, transparent collection systems similar to the retail industry, which most patients are familiar with. While more physicians are making POS collections a priority, they should also offer digital payment options. Online access makes collections more efficient for providers and more convenient for patients.
Processing time and other delays are minimized when tech-savvy customers have multiple channels to make payments, especially online. Physicians are better positioned to optimize and streamline RCM.
- Errors are less likely than with more traditional manual processing. Administrative costs are reduced.
- Physicians are more likely to receive payment. According to the Billing Household Survey from Fiserv, 62% of all bills are paid electronically. Ninety-three percent of consumers reported that they prefer to pay their medical bills online whenever possible.
- Practices collect more readily when they create online options through which patients can login and store relevant information about their account. Subsequent logins allow them to make payments faster and more easily since the system "remembers" them when they check in. When patients have consistent, convenient payment channels, physicians have more consistency in collections.
- As electronic payment systems evolve alongside other digital medical data systems, providers recognize the opportunity to integrate them, directing patients to electronic health records (EHRs), while using single sign-on technology (SSO) to incorporate them with payment portals.
Patients enjoy the flexibility of digital payment options.
- They can pay their bills from any location at any time. Over half of survey respondents noted that they experience greater customer satisfaction when they have access to online billing.
- They are better able to manage healthcare payments by having instant access to their account history and remaining balances. Alerts and reminders can be included to let patients know when a payment due date is approaching.
- Providers can offer more information through online portals, making their costs and collection procedures more transparent and easily understood by patients.
Emphasizing Online Payment
Some providers may be hesitant to increase online access channels or try to steer more patients toward digital payment options because they have many patients who are more comfortable with traditional methods. However, medical practices can implement a few strategies to encourage consumers to use online portals.
- Traditional mail-in statements should feature large fonts and catchy graphics to call attention to digital support tools. The first thing patients should see is the online payment option.
- Providers should train staff to emphasize payment portals any time they talk to patients, whether over the phone or in person.
- Strategically promote online payment so that it specifically targets patients who do not have a history of using digital support. For example, when sending statements, staff should only include payment portal information for consumers who exclusively utilize more traditional payment methods. This is a small step toward minimizing extraneous costs.
Providers maximize revenue cycles by expanding digital access. Accustomed to having a variety of bill payment options when making purchases and managing other expenses, patients are less likely to overlook healthcare bills if they can view statements and make payments electronically. Online access allows providers to manage collections effectively so they have more time and resources to provide the best care for their patients.