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The need for an omnichannel payments experience in healthcare is greater than ever before. Rising patient payment responsibility, mergers and acquisitions, and innovations in payment technology have all created new opportunities for healthcare providers to collect payments. Embracing an omnichannel approach to patient payments can positively impact a healthcare organization’s revenue, brand awareness and patient satisfaction scores. However, failure to implement omnichannel payments can have the opposite effect.

Here’s everything you need to know about omnichannel payments and why they matter in healthcare:

What are omnichannel payments?
Omnichannel is a multichannel approach to collecting payments that offers patients the ability to pay their healthcare bills via their preferred payment channel (i.e., online, IVR, mobile, in the front office, etc.). When patients can make payments the way they want, they’re more likely to pay.

Why not just focus collection efforts on the most popular payment channel?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” payment channel that meets the needs of every patient. We know that the popularity of online and mobile payment channels is growing and that 58 percent of consumers prefer to pay their medical bills through an online payment channel (LHK Partners 2016 Provider Survey). However, not every patient will prefer to pay this way. In fact, 16 percent of consumers prefer to pay their medical bills at the provider’s office, and 5 percent prefer to pay over the phone. (LHK Partners 2016 Provider Survey) The key is to offer patients multiple payment options so that all of your patients have the ability to pay their healthcare bills however they want. Not only does this increase the likelihood that your patients will pay, but it also improves patient satisfaction and their overall healthcare experience.

Why does patient satisfaction matter?
Healthcare providers are in the business of caring for people. However, even the best healthcare encounter can be damaged by a negative billing and payment experience. According to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey results, consumer satisfaction ratings fall by more than 30 percent from post-discharge through the billing process. Patients who are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience are more likely to shop around for a new provider and are less likely to recommend the provider to their peers. On the other hand, consumers who are satisfied with their healthcare payments experience are 5x more likely to recommend the provider (2015 HCAHPS Survey), meaning that high patient satisfaction could lead to new business for your organization.

How do providers benefit?
Improving the consumer experience is important, but new processes should not be implemented at the expense of the efficiency and convenience of a healthcare organization and its staff. Thankfully, omnichannel payments benefit all stakeholders. A better consumer experience with omnichannel payments can create a better staff experience in the following ways:

  1. Posting and Reconciliation
    Offering omnichannel payments creates convenience and ease for patients, but make sure multiple payment channels aren’t creating a mess on the back-end. The key requirements of your payment solution should include the ability to deposit funds directly into your existing bank account(s) and automatically post and reconcile payment information into your existing system(s). This enables you to offer a convenient consumer experience while streamlining the process for your staff – ultimately cutting costs.
  2. Reporting
    Make sure you have visibility into how your payment channels are performing. Your staff should be able to report on all patient payments, at an enterprise level as well as down to the individual patient level. Your staff should have access to robust reporting tools that offer clear visibility into where payments are coming from and what the collection status is of each payment. Staff should also have the ability to quickly and easily access payment receipts and statements.
  3. Security and Compliance
    With recent news about increased ransomware attacks and other security threats, many providers are focused on improving security and compliance within their organization. What you may not realize is that leveraging new payment innovations can actually add more security. New payment technologies like point-to-point encryption, digital wallets, EMV and Apple Pay® offer advanced levels of security that protect payment information and help reduce PCI scope.
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