By: d’ArtagnanOsborne, general manager of payment solutions, Kareo
Medical practices face payment collection difficulties for various reasons – and the state of the economy has made it a pain point for many as their patients face added financial hardship. As patients take on more financial responsibility for medical expenses, their personal medical debt has skyrocketed. Four in 10 adults currently have debt due to medical or dental bill, according to the KFF Health Care Debt Survey.
Such adversity impacts patients’ ability or willingness to pay new medical expenses, as does the increasing complexity of payment processes. This has all led to discouragingly low payment collections for healthcare providers, along with added work to resolve past-due collections. What can a practice do to regain control of its revenues and financial health? Many are turning to the benefits of an automated payment collection system.
Automated payment systems improve payment collection
Discarding outdated, manual payment collection processes has an enormously positive impact on payment collection success. Automated systems can streamline the patient payment process, enhance customer-centric efforts, save time and drive more reliable revenue. Automated technology has become a lifesaver for medical practices across the country, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
Automated payment systems help maintain a practice’s financial health by simplifying patient payments, building transparent relationships and increasing office staff efficiencies, along with minimizing the risk for errors. Let’s take a closer look at how all that can be accomplished.
Payment options make it easier for patients to pay
Automated payment technology offers patients the ability to pay in a variety of ways. In fact, one billing company found that it helped its healthcare practices improve collections by up to 30%. This is a direct benefit of giving patients versatility to pay what they can, when they can, via Apple Pay, Google Pay or Microsoft Pay, and keeping a card on file. Offering these options increases convenience for patients while allowing staff to collect payment at time of service. An added benefit is the increased opportunity for contactless payments, which have become more important to consumers since the pandemic. In fact, more than half (51%) of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment.
Retain patients long-term
Maintaining transparent, trusting relationships with existing patients can help practices prioritize the patient experience and retain patients as well as gain referrals. Payment collection is a critical aspect of that success, especially considering that 66% of consumers would be open to changing healthcare providers for a better payment experience. Automated payment systems can support the patient experience with contactless payments, digital reminders for outstanding balances and an easy process to submit payments via phone or tablet versus check. This in turn helps to foster a more supportive relationship between patient and provider.
Save time with improved office efficiency
High deductible plans have made patients more responsible for their medical payments than ever before. Nearly half (46%) of insured adults reported difficulty affording out-of-pocket costs according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll, which in turn results in staff investing added time to track down payments. An automated payment system can support those efforts and reduce the need for added staff by creating a seamless process to monitor payments and conduct collection follow-ups – including set-it-and-forget-it features to send out payment reminders. This frees up office staff and allows them to focus on other pressing business tasks. Such features can schedule reminders at specific intervals via mail, email or text, whichever the patient prefers.
Reduce errors to communicate more effectively
When faced with manual payment tracking, staff must jump through multiple hoops and patient follow ups, which may be less than fruitful, especially if the wrong contact information or payment information was initially entered. Modern automated payment systems allow patients to enter payment and contact information directly, which reduces the odds of staff input errors. Upgrading to an automated system can minimize opportunities for errors and thus greatly reduce the time once needed in the past to track down patients for corrections.
Secure your practice’s financial health with an automated payment solution
Today’s medical practices must focus on improving revenues for their own financial health. Considering that modern patients need more support, communication and convenience, transitioning to an automated payment solution could be the difference between a healthy or declining practice. And luckily some automated platforms have been created with your office staff in mind to deliver a seamless experience necessitating fewer screens or platforms to navigate through.
The right system can improve your reliable revenue, maintain good customer experience, save office staff time and reduce errors. Now is the time to make the change from risky manual billing processes of the past to a dependable automated billing technology for your practice’s successful financial future.
About the Author: d’Artagnan Osborne is the general manager of payment solutions at Kareo where he leads the payments business unit. Kareo and PatientPop merged in November 2021 to form Tebra, creating an all-in-one practice success platform to build the independent practices of the future. d’Artagnan is a business and technology leader with over 20 years of experience building ahead-of-the-curve SaaS products from concept to commercialization. In addition, he has delivered cloud-based software solutions that help drive the modernization of industries.
The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.