As the healthcare industry continues to move toward patient-centered care, providers strategize how to offer the highest quality of care based on patient needs. Navigating the healthcare landscape may prove difficult for patients, especially when paying for their care.
The providers that offer convenient payment methods for patients will come out ahead, says Chris Seib, chief technology officer of InstaMed, a company dedicated to simplifying the healthcare payment process. The U.S. healthcare payments market is expected to reach $5 trillion by 2022, according to the CMS, so confidently handling the healthcare payment process is crucial to patient experience.
Here are five key strategies to keep up with the technology curve.
1. Consumers demand convenience and simplicity. Many consumers also want to make payments online in one place, instead of logging into various portals or filling out paper forms. Seventy-six percent of consumers claimed they would consider the simplicity of a payment process when choosing a health plan, based on an Aite survey. Providers who offer a single payment portal online will ease the process for patients, staying in line with the core of patient-centered care.
Mr. Seib mentions Apple Pay digital wallet as an impressive example of convenience and simplicity.
2. Mobile devices are the key to access. Mobile devices are here to stay, and smart healthcare providers will incorporate them into their services. With 90 percent of the American adult population owning cellphones, the “possibilities of mobile technology are truly limitless.” Offering online payment options compatible with mobile devices will expand points of access for patients, creating a streamlined process.
3. More payments require better payment systems. With higher deductibles and the ACA, patients pay greater amounts at more frequent rates. This change in payment pattern has caught many providers off-guard, who have previously not needed to use sophisticated billing and electronic payment systems. Mr. Seib emphasizes providers adopt consumer-centric payment technologies that allow consumers to pay online or via mobile device.
Providers may want to consider using systems that allow automated payments, easing the front-end process for patients and the back-end management for providers. “Healthcare has the opportunity to transform the consumer experience, and in doing so, create improved levels of engagement, loyalty and satisfaction,” says Mr. Seib.
4. Guide patients through the payment process. About 20 percent of consumers are burdened with debt from unpaid medical bills, due to a lack of understanding about the payment process. Mr. Seib believes providers can ease this confusion and stress for patients by offering “simple, private and secure automated payment processes to improve collection times and cash flow while ultimately improving the consumer experience.”
5. Don’t leave room for cyber attacks. “As access to electronic payment channels increases, healthcare providers must be aware of the resulting implications to data security,” says Mr. Seib. To protect against cyber breaches, providers may want to practice point-to-point encryption. Encrypting all payment data immediately at the time of payment and decrypting only when the payments reach secure end points, providers significantly decrease the risks of breaches.
Mr. Seib suggests providers invest in devices and a POS solution that support encryption and have the ability to read chip cards for the EMV fraud liability shift. This step is especially important because healthcare organizations without EMV acceptance assume liability for accepting counterfeit cards.