Earlier this month, many students brushed off their textbooks and headed back into the classroom for a new school year. Healthcare providers can take a cue from the academic calendar and use September to review their healthcare payments processes. This month, let’s focus more on the revenue cycle and talk about some terms that should be a part of your everyday patient payments vocabulary.
Def: A multichannel approach to payments that offers consumers a seamless experience whether they want to pay online, over the phone, in the front office, via mobile app, etc.
Use in a sentence: The staff at Main Street Family Practice was thrilled to see their patients using omnichannel payments: just this morning, Billy used his credit card at the front desk, Sally called and paid through IVR with her HSA and Peggy paid for all three of her triplets online via eCheck on the patient portal.
Real-world application: According to the Trends in Healthcare Payments Sixth Annual Report: 2015, we know that the popularity of payment options like online and mobile payments is growing. This is largely influenced by innovators in other industries, like Uber and Amazon, who are offering consumers simple and convenient payment experiences. With patient responsibility increasing, as well as the growth of consumers shopping around for healthcare, providers need to offer these same convenient experiences for healthcare payments, or risk loss of revenue, bad debt write-offs or even losing patient business altogether.
However, it’s important to consider that not every consumer is going to want to utilize payment options like online and mobile, and some consumers might still prefer to pay by check. The key is to leverage an omnichannel approach to payments so that you offer consumers every possible option to pay their healthcare bills.
Def: To apply the principles of automation to an otherwise non-automated process, such as office operations
Use in a sentence: Ever since Main Street Hospital started automating their patient payment collections with Auto Payment Collect™, their staff has been able to spend less time tracking down patients to collect and manually entering payment information into their source A/R system.
Real-world application: Both providers and consumers benefit from automated payments. For consumers, automatic payments are seen as a convenient alternative to confusing bills that come in the mail months after a healthcare encounter. With Auto Payment Collect, consumers give providers a payment method to save on file for the provider to charge as soon as a consumer has a balance. Instead of receiving one or multiple paper statements and being confused about what they owe, consumers receive an email clearly explaining what their balance is and how much is going to be charged to what payment method, then another email confirming that payment has been collected.
Providers benefit because staff can spend less time tracking down outstanding payments. You can also reduce print and mail costs, since Auto Payment Collect eliminates the need to send paper statements and actually suppresses statement printing automatically when payment is collected. Plus, with integration options, payments can also post automatically into your existing source A/R system, eliminating the security risks and overhead associated with manually entering payment information.
Digital Wallet (n.)
Def: An electronic device that lets consumers store one or multiple payment methods online, securely, for faster future payments
Use in a sentence: After Billy’s entire family visited the doctor to treat a nasty case of pneumonia affecting them all, Billy logged onto his provider’s patient portal and selected his preferred payment methods from the drop down menu of his digital wallet to pay balances for each individual family member.
Real-world application: A digital wallet gives consumers the ability to manage their payment preferences for better control of their healthcare finances. Consumers can store their preferred payment methods, including credit cards, HSA accounts and bank account information in their digital wallet and quickly and easily make payments online by selecting the payment method they want to use. Storing multiple payment methods in one digital wallet gives the consumer the ability to manage payments for other members of their family, or even different healthcare encounters as well, as a consumer may not want to use the same payment method for all family members or all healthcare encounters they have at your organization. By enabling consumers to set up a digital wallet on your patient portal, you are giving them the ability to pay any balance with a convenient and seamless payment experience.
Healthcare Bill Payments (n.)
Def: A solution that lets your patients pay you via their health plan’s website or a patient portal
Use in a sentence: While visiting her health plan’s member portal to pay her monthly premium for her individual insurance plan, Sally saw she had a balance from her last visit with Main Street Orthopedics and elected to pay it immediately by simply clicking “pay now.”
Real-world application: Offering your patients the ability to pay you via their health plan’s website or a patient portal brings us back to the message of omnichannel payments. Not all of your patients are going to choose this as their preferred way to pay, but the point is to offer patients simple, convenient options and give you more opportunities to collect. Plus, this is the easiest way to get paid from patients, since you are reaching them where they already are. You can learn more about Healthcare Bill Payments here, or register to start receiving Healthcare Bill Payments for free today.
Start incorporating these keywords into your patient payment processes and see how your collections improve. You can learn more about omnichannel payments here, automatic payments here, digital wallets here and Healthcare Bill Payments here