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The healthcare industry has been focused on understanding and adapting to the new impacts of healthcare consumerism, and for good reason; the Sixth Annual Trends in Healthcare Payments Report identified consumerism as one of the major trends impacting healthcare organizations today. In a separate blog post this month, InstaMed CTO and co-founder, Chris Seib, outlines some of the most critical consumer payment behaviors that affect healthcare providers today.

While healthcare organizations should continue improving the consumer experience, new processes should not be implemented at the expense of the efficiency and convenience of other industry stakeholders, including providers (and their staff), payers, third-party billers or any system your organization uses to connect these constituents. Instead, improvement of the consumer experience and creation of greater efficiency and convenience for all stakeholders can happen simultaneously.

Healthcare organizations can look to the following areas as opportunities to cater to the consumer experience while deepening the connection and integration across all players and pieces of the healthcare payments process.

Posting and Reconciliation
Many patient payment solutions offer an attractive user interface that makes healthcare payments easy for patients. However, these solutions are often far less appealing on the back-end. If your patient payment solution is creating an operational mess for your staff, you should consider an alternative. Requirements for your patient 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.

If you’re investing in tools to deliver patients greater visibility and understanding of their healthcare payments, make sure that technology offers the same capabilities to your staff. Your payment solution should empower your staff have a full understanding of how your collection efforts 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.

Integration With Existing Systems
To reduce costs and increase efficiency, healthcare mergers and acquisitions are becoming increasingly common to consolidate healthcare organizations. Often, when two or more organizations come together, they are challenged to work across multiple systems, leading to unnecessary inefficiencies and detrimental disruptions to workflows. To achieve efficiency across multiple systems, healthcare organizations need to integrate payment activity directly into existing systems. This eliminates the need for staff to manually process payments and enter payment data. As a result, you reduce the time it takes to process payments and open up the opportunity for your staff to collect more payments, since integrated payment functionality enables staff to collect payments at every patient interaction point. As an added bonus, integration improves payment security by eliminating the manual steps associated with communicating information between disparate systems.

Healthcare Transactions
Your payment system should not limit you to handling only patient payment transactions. Each patient payment amount depends on healthcare information, including eligibility and responsibility estimation, which are directly related to the claims providers submit to health plans the remittances received in return. All of these transactions are related to each other. Therefore, providers should be able to access all transaction information in the same place. For example, your staff should be able to check eligibility and manage claims from the same place they manage payments and billing. This way, if there is any confusion or questions about a payment, from the patient or the provider side, your staff only has one place to search for an answer.

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. According to The Sixth Annual Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report, 81% of providers identified security for patient payments as an issue of high importance. What some providers may not be considering 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. Evaluate the security of your current payment solution. Does it support these technologies? As the payment industry quickly evolves, when new payment technologies are available, will your solution be able to keep up?

Significant security benefits also come from integrating payments within your existing system, as mentioned earlier. When implemented correctly, integration options such as embedded payment screens reduce the exposure of sensitive payment information and reduce PCI scope.

Improving the consumer experience is key, but don’t do it at the expense of efficiency and convenience on your end. Consider a consumer-friendly approach to payments that enhances the experience for all stakeholders in the healthcare payments process.

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