The relationship between paper and healthcare has seen its fair share of disagreements, slow-moving relationship changes and of course, unnecessary expenses. This relationship isn’t working anymore, and unfortunately, paper, the issue is you. It’s time for healthcare to finally break up with paper and explore other, better options for healthcare payments.
Here are three reasons why paper is hurting the healthcare payments industry and a few tips your organization can take to bounce back from the breakup and be better than ever before.
Why Paper Is Hurting Healthcare Payments
- Paper is expensive.
Healthcare is one of the last industries where the majority of information is primarily transmitted via paper, including: EOPs, EOBs, mailed paper statements, paper check payments, etc. This heavy reliance on paper costs the healthcare industry an estimated $300 billion dollars a year. Aside from that, the ability to support these paper-based transactions requires manual processes that cost the industry significant resources – consider that 16 percent of total healthcare spending is on administrative costs. These excess costs include money spent on collecting, processing, posting and reconciling payments.
- Paper is slow.
The cost of paper is not just monetary either – 21 percent of physicians’ time is spent on non-clinical paperwork. 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. The slow pace of paper hurts patients, too. Consider that 86% of consumers are receiving paper bills from their healthcare providers that usually arrive weeks or even months after a healthcare encounter. Then, when a consumer is ready to pay their bill, only 21% actually want to use a paper check to make a payment. Today’s consumers have everything at the touch of a button and expect fast, Amazon-like payment experiences in every aspect of their life, including healthcare. Slow, paper-based healthcare payment transactions are not living up to the expectations that consumers have when it comes to making a payment. The disconnect between what patients want and what healthcare delivers makes it more difficult to collect payments from patients, as paper lends itself to slow or delayed payments.
- Paper is wasteful.
U.S. healthcare facilities generate nearly two billion pounds of paper and cardboard waste each year. If you’re still using paper in any aspect of the payments process, you’re a part of the U.S. healthcare system’s costly paper problem. With the continued increase of high-deductible health plans and the rise in patient responsibility, healthcare providers must collect more payments from patients than ever before. As a result, providers send more statements and take on increased costs, including print and mail, to collect patient balances. According to MGMA, on average three statements are printed and mailed by a provider per healthcare encounter to collect from a patient. This is very wasteful, but also unnecessary as electronic processes can eliminate paper entirely. Utilizing electronic transactions can reduce healthcare’s carbon footprint as well as reduce the cost and time it takes to get paid. Plus, it’s not as hard as it seems. Read 5 simple steps your organization can take to go paperless here.
Say Hello to Automated Payments
Healthcare payments, meet automated tools and processes. Going paperless has never been simpler with the help of new technologies that enable healthcare organizations to reduce the time and costs spent to collect and get paid faster. Ditch the paper and explore these new and better online solutions for healthcare payments.
Take Payments Online
As the role of consumers continues to grow in the healthcare payments industry, providers need to meet their expectations for an electronic payment experience. Data from the Trends in Healthcare Payments Seventh Annual Report: 2016 confirms that 58 percent of consumers prefer online payment channels to pay their medical bills. Healthcare organizations can leverage patient portals to deliver patients the payment experience they want. A patient portal allows patients to make payments 24/7 from any device. Patients no longer need to wait for the bill to come in the mail; they have the ability to go online, see what they owe and pay with the payment method of their choice. Once they’re online, you can give them the option to enroll for eStatements so they never have to receive a paper bill from you again. This makes the payment experience better and more convenient for everyone and lets your organization save money on printing and postage costs.
Eliminate Statements Altogether
Take automation a step further with Auto Payment Collect™. Save a patient’s payment information on file so you can automatically collect patient responsibility as soon as a patient balance is due. Instead of receiving one or multiple paper statements and being confused about what they owe, patients are able to 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. This also eliminates the need for staff follow-up for payment on outstanding balances. Both providers and consumers benefit from automated payments and it creates a convenient, consumer-friendly experience that patients are familiar with from other industries.
Break ups can be hard, but the healthcare industry’s reliance on paper has lasted too long. It’s time for healthcare to finally read the signs and pull the plug on the relationship that is hurting them most. Plus, with automated payment options that eliminate the need for paper altogether, there are plenty of other fish in the sea!
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