Convenience and Automation: Improve the Patient Experience with Automatic Payments
Everyone has a story about trying to register to pay a bill on a archaic and complicated website or waiting on hold for what seems like days only to speak to someone who couldn’t help you take the payment. Have you missed a due date on a bill because you forgot to write a check and drop it in the mail? It’s very frustrating and inconvenient.
The average American spends up to 6 days of their life every year just dealing with bills. On the whole, it does not seem like a lot of time, but, at the time, it certainly feels like that time is standing still.
Imagine if you got these days back—and imagine if healthcare billing was as simple as Amazon “1-click” payments, or Netflix’s way of billing with “0-click” payments.
Automatic Payment technology (or AutoPay) is not new to your patients. They have been using it with other services and industries for years now, and they are clearly incorporating it into their daily routine. This technology can be used in lock-step with your online patient portal, customized statements or as a standalone product.
Honestly, patients are silently demanding it, and your healthcare organization needs to drive this change or you’ll lose money, time and loyal patients.
With automatic payment technology, patients have the option to decide to pay their future medical statement balances with payment methods saved on file. It takes the guesswork and hassle out of managing medical bills. The payment plan agreements are customizable so it’s comfortable for each individual and guidelines can be set to meet the provider’s business model as well.
Why it’s good for Providers
We know patient pay is one of the most pressing priorities for healthcare providers currently. As patient responsibility for out-of-pocket medical expenses has climbed to 25% of all medical revenue, it’s not only important to collect money that patients owe, but save on the cost of collecting while increasing revenue.
Accelerate Accounts Receivable
It’s a balancing act: spending resources on outbound calling campaigns, patient pay technologies, multiple paper billing statements delivered on a monthly cycle, etc. While also having patient account representatives at the ready to answer inbound calls, and resolve billing questions while collecting phone payments are hefty expenses that really add up quickly.
Reduce the Overall Cost to Collect
A certain population of your patients will always pay their medical bills in full when they receive that first billing statement—and pay it before it’s even due. For other patients, you’ll find they don’t pay their bill from the first statement, and additional billing cycles add cost to the collection efforts.
Reduce Bad Debt Risk to Increase Revenue
As more statements are sent each month, the risk increases that the patient won’t pay their bill at all. Depending on your collection and bad debt services, you’re looking to lose out on more revenue by adding an additional 10-25% to the cost to collect on those accounts.
Improve the Patient Experience
Patients can setup and manage their AutoPay agreements through the online portal, automatically add new statements, and benefit from the convenience of not worrying about their medical bills. They will always be paid on time and automatically.
Why it’s good for Patients
Aside from the above benefits of improving the patient experience through convenience and automation, there are many other benefits that consumers enjoy with AutoPay. These agreements are geared towards patients who receive ongoing medical services such as dermatology care and physical therapy.
Billing support staff can set up patient payments for an agreed upon amount at the point-of-service for future statements. Once the initial agreement is set up, future statements with balances less than or equal to the agreed-upon payment amount will be auto-paid. For statements over that amount, AutoPay will send an email confirmation for the patient to greenlight the new amount or it will just charge the agreed-upon amount for that statement.
New statements are automatically added to the AutoPay plan if it meets the criteria that the patient agreed upon. When a balance is added the patient receives an email alerting them that the payment has been scheduled. The Autopay agreement may be viewed or changed through the patient’s online portal.
The Bottom Line
Everyone can relate to the frustrations related to paying bills, whether you lose it in a stack of mail or you receive a bill for an amount is way more than you thought it would be. Many industries have resolved such issues— the healthcare industry is slowly but surely finding its way there too.
The time is here to be on the forefront of driving this change toward consumerism. Consumers are comfortable with saving their credit cards and bank account information to services like Amazon so they will be comfortable with their healthcare provider saving their card information too. It’s a smart move to add automatic payment options to your patient pay toolkit.