The healthcare industry continues to experience a major shift in a patient’s financial responsibility. This is largely driven by significant changes in the reimbursement model, but there is so much more to consider than collecting payments.
Between 2012 and 2015, consumer payments to healthcare providers nearly doubled. This upward trend in consumer payment has continued -- healthcare deductibles have nearly quadrupled since 2006. In 2018, the average insurance deductible was $1,350.
On top of more money owed more often, the healthcare industry is also facing a drastic increase in the number of patients they are treating as the Baby Boomer population continues to age. In addition, people are living longer on average and diseases such as diabetes are on the rise.
This ultimately means healthcare providers are managing a much higher volume of patient payments. These increased volumes are causing healthcare providers to rethink their approach to collecting payments.
Payment technology can play a crucial role in this responsibility shift by helping healthcare institutions achieve their revenue cycle objectives while improving the patient experience. Here are some strategies to consider for 2020:
1. Reduce Bad Debt by Speeding Up Revenue Cycles
The latest payment solutions allow providers to promptly collect patient payments at all points in the revenue cycle process and throughout the continuum of care. This includes inpatient and outpatient settings, triage or emergency rooms, physician practices, home healthcare and pharmacies.
Fixed terminals and mobile POS devices allow providers to immediately collect required balances at the point of care and avoid delays, underpayments and partial payments that lead to bad debt.
2. Improve Transaction Speed and Convenience
Whether processing payments at check-in, at the point of care, or even in the pharmacy drive-thru, many solutions offer fast and flexible payments via NFC/contactless methods such as mobile wallets (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.). This helps to speed up transactions and improve convenience for providers as well as their patients.
Touch screen terminals can also help providers speed up the check-in process and reduce administrative paperwork by offering patient interactivity. This provides a seamless way to capture signatures for consent forms, verify demographics and sign up for loyalty programs, capture charitable foundation donations and more.
3. Enhance the Patient Experience
Today’s patients want to know how much they will owe and understand their payment options. They also want more clarity and transparency in their healthcare billing.
As of January 1, 2019, a new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule requires all hospitals in the U.S. to publicize their chargemasters, a list of all services and items for which a hospital can bill a patient or their insurance provider. As more patients learn their rights and ask for cost estimates at hospitals and any healthcare organization – it helps to improve the patient experience as well as assist the healthcare organizations in collecting payments. Research from HIMSS Analytics found that upfront cost estimates directly impacted the patients' likelihood to recommend a provider and also impact how much they would be willing to pay upfront.
That same HIMMS Analytics study found that the ways patients prefer to pay is rapidly evolving. Paying with a credit card is still the number one method, but the research finds that offering varied payment options is more convenient for patients and boosts the provider's revenue cycles. They found that a growing number of respondents (compared to 2017) believe the Credit Card on File (CCOF) and automated payment plans will improve collections overall and reduce bad debt and write-offs. Consumer credits lines were also less preferred each year. This is where providers can think about implementing additional security measures such as tokenization which can help protect the card data while it is stored for these payment plans.
Payment solutions offer an ideal way to address these trends in patient preferences. Clinical mobility provides patients with a clear summary of their payment responsibility by allowing them to interact with these devices and review billing details. They also provide the flexibility to make secure payments with cards or via mobile wallets.
The potential impact of meeting these expectations and improving the patient payment experience is very real.
As the new year comes closer, healthcare providers should make payment technology a fundamental part of their revenue cycle and patient care strategies. This will help them simplify the payment process and shorten the revenue cycle while enhancing the patient experience.
Download our free healthcare brochure to learn more about simplifying patient payments with seamless and secure healthcare payment solutions. If you have any questions, feel free to request more information on this page.
Brandon Zauche is a Sales Executive at Ingenico Group, North America