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Going Electronic: The Optimization For Payments In Healthcare

The integration of digital transformation across the healthcare industry has proven to be quite challenging. Providing a “consumer-centric experience” has also seemed far-fetched especially during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The healthcare industry is also fraught with roadblocks, like regulatory requirements, compliance policies that are complex, and a convoluted IT structure. 

According to the 2020 Annual State of the Patient Financial Experience Report, 25% of providers would prefer that their staff utilize “digital-first patient engagement channels”. However, only 15% have managed to steer in that direction. 

Significant Gaps With Payments In The Healthcare Industry

Although hospitals were making gradual shifts towards implementing digital communication tools, the outbreak of the pandemic expedited these efforts. The results were the adoption of digital technology in the way of telehealth. 

However, as the frenzied activity of addressing the pandemic decelerated to a more stabilized state,  prominent gaps in the patient experience had to be addressed. 

The billing and payment experience, specifically, lacked streamlined, digital-first efforts. This is particularly frustrating for patients. The Experience Report also pointed out that 4 out of 5 patients were “confused or frustrated” when it came time to pay for their healthcare services. They laid the blame heavily on both the health insurers and the providers. This clearly marked the need for a more patient-centric approach for tech adoption. 

A survey conducted by InstaMed in 2019 found that 83% of patients would rather pay their bills electronically. However, 87% of medical providers were still using manual and paper processes for collections. Even 66% of consumers surveyed said they would change healthcare providers if they were offered a better payment experience elsewhere. 

The Solutions

Improved billing processes would be an effective first course of action in order to make the experience more intuitive for patients. By implementing a “digital-first billing and payments”, patients will be able to utilize a more straightforward and efficient process to make sure they pay their bills on time. By doing so both the patient and the hospital wins. Here are some more solutions:

1.  Contactless Payment Methods

Clinics are starting to use card-not-present payments or (CNP), which allows the patient to enter their credit card information within a digital portal either before or after the visit. Clinics can also accept CNP payments from digital wallets like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal.

2.  Accounts Receivable (AR) Automation

Healthcare providers are now integrating AR automation technology within their ERP. The AR tool generates the invoice automatically and delivers it to the patient through email, text message, or both. The patient can then click a link to pay by card, digital wallet, or whatever contactless payment option the provider offers. Once the invoice is paid digitally, the ERP system is automatically reconciled. 

3.  Vendors With Integrated Payments

Independent software vendors or (ISVs) are collaborating and partnering with payment facilitators in order to offer integrated payments. Through the integration of payments into healthcare platforms, ISVs are able to provide more benefits to medical practices, facilitating seamless payments for patients. 

Another serious issue that needs to be addressed is the lack of “upfront pricing” for patients. Transparency in healthcare costs is considerably lacking. Millions of people are suffering from the economic repercussions of the pandemic. 

With so many people having their hours cut or outright losing their jobs, it is imperative that hospitals address this dilemma with clear pricing. Flexible payment options would also be greatly appreciated as patients will likely revisit these healthcare facilities if such options exist.

Digitalization Is The Future For Healthcare

If healthcare facilities provide patients with self-service tools that happen to be user-friendly, the stress level for both the medical staff and the patient will be significantly reduced. 

Especially in today’s climate, offering contactless payments could significantly increase customer loyalty and trust.