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Inefficient processes have long been prevalent in healthcare, especially when it comes to payments. Over the last few years, steady increases in patient responsibility and federally-legislated regulations and incentive programs have led healthcare organizations to invest in software and technologies in an attempt to scale the growing healthcare economy. As a result, your organization may be using multiple systems for billing, payments, patient records and more.

What challenge does this present to my healthcare organization?

The challenge is that these systems are usually disparate and do not function well together, which means you have to add manual steps to actually use your technology effectively. The more systems and processes you try to connect, the more you are creating inefficiencies rather than eliminating them. This problem is only emphasized as healthcare sees more mergers and acquisitions of organizations using separate systems and processes.

But technology is good, so how can I use it effectively?

Healthcare organizations need a way to address the challenges of a growing healthcare economy and improve the inefficiencies caused by disparate systems.  However, the answer is not to add another new system lacking integration in existing systems. Instead, your organization should leverage the power of integration to access data across existing systems so that technology creates efficiency rather than adding to the inefficiency, particularly in the healthcare payments process.

What is integration?

Integration connects your systems to automatically share data. For successful integration, you want to implement a trusted solution with a flexible and rich application program interface (API) that allows for simple and seamless integration across systems. The result is a seamless flow of information across all systems, so your staff can collect payments more efficiently.

What are the benefits?

Your Staff Spends Less Time Processing Payments
If a payment system is not integrated with a practice management system (PMS), how do you account for payments in your patient records? Without integration, you have to take manual steps to post and reconcile payments, which takes time and significantly increases the risk of errors. The manual process can also mean that the information in the PMS does not reflect the most up-to-date information in the payment system, which can result in unnecessary follow-up calls and statements sent to patients who have already paid.

When payment is integrated into a PMS, the payment information automatically populates into the patient recording system, so there is no need for manual steps, no room for error and quicker access to the most recent payment information.

You Collect More Payments
An integrated payment system opens up more payment channels for healthcare organizations to collect payments. When your payment system is integrated with your other systems, you have opportunities to collect at every patient interaction point, delivering a more convenient patient experience.

Consider all the patient interaction points at your organization. Do you have a kiosk at the front-desk for easy check-in? Patients can make a payment here, too. Do patients visit your website to make appointments and order prescription refills? You can embed payment functionality in your website so patients can pay you online. Does your staff call patients regarding payments? They can collect payment right away, with whichever payment method the patient prefers to use. The result is a more convenient experience for patients and greater opportunity to collect payments.

You Make Handling Patient Payment Information Less Risky
There are significant security and compliance risks associated with the manual steps required to communicate information between two disparate systems. Sensitive payment information should never be written down, printed out or copied and pasted from one system to another. When payment is integrated, payment information automatically populates in your PMS without any human interaction, which significantly reduces the risk of information being copied incorrectly or being lost or stolen.

When implemented correctly, an integrated payment system can also help you reduce PCI scope. Integration options such as embedded payment screens reduce the exposure of sensitive payment information. You can also leverage payment technologies like point-to-point encryption and tokenization to make payment processing more secure. Both solutions reduce PCI scope and both are possible with a properly implemented integrated payment system.

You Make Your Patients Happier
Improve patient satisfaction and trust by integrating payment into the existing experience. By delivering a smooth and secure patient experience with convenient options, you will increase patient trust and enhance the end-to-end patient experience, which is growing more important as healthcare consumerism rises.

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