The time for paper to leave the healthcare industry has long since passed. Relying on paper for healthcare payments instead of leveraging less expensive and more efficient electronic alternatives, is costing all industry stakeholders. Seventy-nine percent of consumers still receive a paper medical bill, but only 21 percent of consumers actually want to use checks to make healthcare payments.
Not only are paper bills more expensive, but they are also inefficient. This reliance on an outdated way of billing may be a major contributor to why 73 percent of providers report that it takes longer than 30 days to collect from patients. Providers often have to send multiple bills to collect payments and it can take weeks or even months to finally collect payment from a patient. Not to mention, the average time spent on processing a manual paper-based transaction is eight minutes but can be as long as 30 minutes, and costs three dollars more when compared to electronic transactions.
Many providers are seeing the success of eliminating paper from their billing and payments process. Dallas Nephrology Associates (DNA) is a national leader in delivering comprehensive care for patients with kidney disease, transplants and hypertension. The practice was experiencing high patient A/R as a result of increasing patient responsibility and confusion over healthcare bills. DNA found that many of their patients didn’t understand what they owed or how they could pay and as a result, the practice experienced high print and mails costs from sending out multiple statements per patient balance to collect. Additionally, the staff at DNA spent significant time and effort with patients in the office and over the phone explaining costs and taking payments manually.
DNA decided to partner with InstaMed to leverage the InstaMed Patient Engagement Program to look at this problem as an opportunity to improve financial engagement with their patients. The practice determined they needed to help patients understand their payment responsibility, make it easy for patients to pay, and reduce the time and costs associated with paper billing. DNA knew that their patient statements were a critical touchpoint for financial engagement, so they wanted to optimize this touchpoint to reduce patient confusion and drive online payments.
DNA decided to make a key change to their statement by eliminating the tear slip and return envelope for check payments, which are less convenient for patients and burdensome for staff. At the same time, they implemented a new, consumer-tested layout from InstaMed with clear messaging that helped patients understand what they owe and how they can easily pay online.
Ed Davis, Director of Information Technology at DNA, discussed the benefits of their new patient statements saying, “We’ve received very positive feedback on the new look and feel of our InstaMed patient statements. Plus, by removing the tear stub and return envelope, we’ve significantly increased online payments and patient portal usage.”
However, DNA understood that even though they removed the tear stub and return envelope, patients may still want to pay by check. DNA made it clear that online was the preferred and easiest way to pay by displaying the online payment option directly on their statement, but patients still had the option to pay by electronic check online. It is important for DNA to be able to communicate this to patients so they know that every payment method is still available to them, but now they won’t need to buy a stamp. DNA used marketing materials such as statement inserts and signage in their office to let patients know that the easiest way to pay was online.
Overall, DNA experienced a three times increase in their online payments and four times increase in patients enrolled in eStatements. They were able to decrease their staff time and effort to collect payments by 20 percent and were very happy with the results, “The InstaMed Patient Engagement Program offered a truly collaborative approach to improving our billing and payments experience. We’re very pleased with the results we’ve seen so far and look forward to an ongoing partnership that will enable us to achieve even more of our goals.”
With InstaMed, DNA was able to deliver a payment experience similar to other bills, instead of the legacy, paper-based approach that is so prevalent in healthcare payments.
Download the full case study to see more of the significant results Dallas Nephrology Associates saw with the InstaMed Patient Engagement Program.