How do your patients pay their bills? Or perhaps the right question is how do they want to pay their bills?
Consider this patient/consumer data for a quick compare with your current A/R practices:
- More than 75 percent of consumers choose to pay their household bills through online payment channels
- Nearly two thirds of consumers expressed interest in using mobile payment systems, like Apple Pay, for healthcare bills.
- 87 percent of consumers report getting healthcare bills in the mail
- 76 percent were confused by bills from their providers
- 77 percent of consumers reported that they were confused by an explanation of benefits they received from their health plan
No one will argue that medical billing takes the cake when it comes to complexity. As a result, patients — who are now individually responsible for more (sometimes all) of their healthcare costs — are asking more questions and showing more of an interest in how and when they pay.
For healthcare organizations looking to leverage consumer payment trends and preferences, implementing an online payment portal is your next right move.
You’ll boost self pay revenue capture and, more importantly, create a positive billing experience for your patients.
Why now is the best time: Increase in Patient Self Pay
Around 70% of patients are able to pay their medical balance in full. For the other 30%, the increased high deductible health plans and other changes in insurance coverage have resulted in higher out of pocket expenses for patients. This means more patients interact with the business office than ever before — and more self pay dollars are on the table.
Some patient populations prefer patient statements (which is why they should still be part of your arsenal), but the shift toward online payments allows patients to be in control of when and how much they paid for their medical expenses, improving their overall financial experience. And for you? An online payment portal improves your revenue cycle performance. The volume of self pay accounts you are handling will only increase, so widening your payment options means you’ll receive payments in a more timely and efficient manner and reduce days in A/R, all the while meeting patient expectations.
Why regulations demand new tactics: Effect of TCPA
Outbound calling strategies are imperative to contacting patients and asking for payments, but calling and contacting patients by phone has become trickier with the TCPA and regulations and the shift in patient preferences: people don’t want to be contacted by phone anymore. Due to this shift, predictive dialing strategies have changed significantly. Broadening the scope of how healthcare organizations communicate with their patients is a key component to increasing revenue. If patients are not picking up the phone, why keep calling?
Some patient populations want text messages as a reminder to pay their bill, and that message can contain a link directly to the online portal. Other patients prefer eStatements sent electronically, and want to be able to call in and pay over the phone quickly without holding for a representative or any hassle, in which case they may prefer a payment IVR.
Providing several payment and communication options allows your patients to choose the one(s) that suit them best, which inherently makes them more likely to pay.
Why patients want a say: Ease of Use and Convenience
Simplicity drives adoption. The key factor of implementing a successful patient payment portal is to make it simple for your patients to pay – keep a secure credit card on file that is PCI DSS compliant.
No one wants to go through a long registration process and type in all of their information just to make a payment. Set up the portal to require minimal information in order to get the payment and apply it to the correct account: patient name, account number, and an email address for a receipt should be sufficient.
It’s imperative that you’re taking into account what your patients want and responding accordingly to ultimately increase efficiency in receiving payment. Some patients just want to pay without talking to anyone. Others need help understanding their EOB or statement. Your job is to know which is which and to already have the best tools in place to facilitate payment. For example, segmenting your patients with propensity-to-pay technology and using a formula for a presumptive charity score are both ways to “know before” which patients are most likely to pay online or by payment IVR, or which patients require the expertise of your A/R follow up specialists by phone.
The Bottom Line
The most effective way to reach your patients is the way they want to be contacted. Start by asking them. Providing choices in communication and payment leaves your patient happier, and brings more dollars to your bottom line. The need for an online payment portal in your organization has never been greater. Plus, it’s easier than you may think.
Have questions about the portal, implementation, or the effect on the patient experience and ROI? We’d love to hear from you.