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For many healthcare providers today, collecting a patient’s balance due payment is a multi-step process and means waiting to receive the explanation of payment (EOP), printing and mailing a paper statement, then waiting to receive a paper check from the patient, and often writing the payment off as bad debt.  On average, it takes more than three statements, costing five to 15 dollars each, for just one patient to pay his or her balance in full (Medical Group Management Association).  With patient responsibility rapidly increasing and the upcoming influx of newly insured patients under PPACA, providers have the opportunity to use innovative collection methods and new payment channels that are convenient, accessible and automated – and do not rely solely on paper statements.

In the Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report 2012, 62 percent of patients said they normally paid their monthly household bills online, such as utility or cable bills.  As consumers, patients expect to pay healthcare bills when and how they chose, as they do for their other bills, but these expectations are widely unmet in the healthcare industry.  To meet these payment expectations, providers can easily reach patients in locations where they are already accustomed to visiting and paying bills.  For instance, many health plans offer member portals, which enable patients to manage claims and view benefit amounts.  By enabling patients to make online payments to all of their providers through these member portals, providers will receive a payment as soon as the claim is adjudicated without ever sending a statement or making a phone call.

Another payment method that has been widely adopted by other industries is setting up automated payments, which ensures payment without relying on statements and phone calls.  By saving a patient’s credit/debit card information on file during the patient visit, providers can automatically collect the payment as soon as the patient responsibility is identified.  Additionally, providers can leverage payment technology to automatically suppress the printing and mailing of the paper statement to reduce costs.

By offering these innovative and convenient payment channels, providers ensure that they receive patient payments sooner, while spending less to collect.

Bill Marvin has been in the revenue cycle industry since 1993 and has pioneered the healthcare payments industry as the President, CEO and co-founder of InstaMed, the leading Healthcare Payments Network.  Prior to InstaMed, Bill was an executive in Accenture’s Health and Life Sciences practice, focused on payer to provider connectivity.  Prior to Accenture, Bill founded CareWide (now a part of AllScripts after three acquisitions), a practice management system for provider offices.

Click here to read the article originally published by HIMSS.

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