The healthcare information technology (IT) market is expecting a CAGR of 13.2% between now and 2029. As healthcare practices come to rely on more technology, one of the areas that have been slow to adopt but have a lot of upsides is payment processes.
Historically, many practices operated primarily with paper and spreadsheets to track patient bills and capture payments. While transitioning to a digital payment solution can seem like a big step, recent advances in technology have made this easier. Patient payment tools have evolved over the years and now offer an improved user experience. Practices are becoming increasingly more comfortable with the solutions, can prioritize time of service payments with an omnichannel platform, and remove the complexities of patient collections by providing text, email, and traditional mail options to reach patients where they are. These solutions are providing immediate value in terms of increasing payment collections and saving staff time.
Modern patient payment solutions support practices and their employees, as well as patients. Here are some of the key ways adopting these technologies are supporting healthcare practices:
Saves staff time. Many healthcare practices spend roughly 15% to 25% of total expenditures on administrative costs, with billing activities accounting for a large portion. Modern payment solutions can help simplify and automate many of the time-consuming portions of the process – giving staff more time in their day to focus on other organizational goals.
Improves the patient experience. Rising costs have placed more of a financial burden on patients. In fact, 1 in 11 adults delays or go without medical care due to cost reasons, according to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). For the many patients who do seek out care, they are either surprised by the medical bill at the end of care or are confused about the amount they owe. All these scenarios impact a practice’s bottom line. Advancements in payment solutions have helped practices improve the time of service payment collections, as well as more clearly communicate the amount owed while making payment easier through direct pay links – and by allowing patients to store billing information or utilize QR codes to access payment details. These functionalities help speed up collections to keep the business running smoothly.
With the growing adoption of payment solutions, we believe they are here to stay. But there is still more that can be done to improve the process for healthcare practices and patients alike. Here are three trends we see on the horizon:
Payment solution providers process their own payments. The current model typically has payment solution providers working with a third party such as Square or others to process payments. However, we anticipate that more payment solutions will integrate capabilities and include processing within its platform. Payment solution providers with a specific focus on healthcare will continue to seek out ways to help practices overcome day-to-day challenges around payments and enhance offerings to ensure they can provide best-in-class customer support. One way to achieve this is by taking payment processing in-house. A key benefit of transitioning to processing payments directly is the ability to help healthcare providers navigate the payments landscape and quickly address issues that are most important to them. This also will help create a more cohesive, frictionless experience as the payments become fully integrated with the software enabling practices to save time and providing one place to monitor and manage reporting, reconciliation, and more. In addition, healthcare organizations can feel confident that their solution is meeting all regulatory and compliance requirements.
Flexible and customizable payment plan options. Collecting payments is critical to a business’s bottom line. With the rising costs of healthcare and increased burden on the patient, healthcare providers are going to seek out solutions that support payment plans. Payment solution providers will need to explore adding functionalities that enable practices to monitor and manage payment plans. This feature will provide practices the ability to break down the amount due and collect on portions of the payment. In addition, with automation, they will be able to easily customize a cadence for how often patient payment alerts get sent out, at what times of day, and through what channels. Furthermore, advanced solutions would allow practices to create different financing options, such as buy-now-pay-later or set a duration without interest.
Seeking out staff comfortable with software skill sets. We don’t see technology replacing the people behind healthcare, but we see it being an enabler. It will become increasingly important that staff has a skillset and confidence with software – whether through hiring or supporting staff training. Even though solutions are created to be user-friendly, the digital world is changing rapidly and updates are released on a regular cadence, sometimes as often as every two weeks. Therefore, it is important that staff can quickly adapt to new features and successfully help the business roll them out to increase ROI.
If your practice has not moved beyond paper and spreadsheets, it is important to look at how much more money your practice could be leaving on the table by not implementing technology to automate and improve processes. As modern patient payment solutions continue to gain adoption, we anticipate additional advances in the years to come and these solutions becoming the new norm.