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In a time of social distancing, businesses across the country are exploring ways to minimize physical contact in their day-to-day operations going forward.

One way for healthcare organizations to implement contactless patient payments is to automate payment collection. Automated payments let providers eliminate paper and the exchange of physical payment methods from the payments process. Watch this ten-minute video about best practices for leveraging automation to collect patient payments, or check out a summary of these tips below.

Why Automation for Patient Payments?

Over the years as patient payment responsibility has increased and high deductible health plans have emerged, providers have been challenged to collect payments from patients. Patient collections are difficult for a variety of reasons: there are many factors that determine what a patient will owe for healthcare, patients are confused about their benefits information and the industry still largely depends on paper-based, manual processes to collect. ​

According to the Tenth Annual Trends in Healthcare Payments Report, 74% of providers say that it takes more than a month to collect a patient balance, 46% of respondents mailed three statements before a patient balance is sent to collections, and 78% of providers cannot collect a patient balance of $1,000+ in 30 days.​

Automation helps providers can get paid faster with less time and effort, and also delivers benefits to patients by making the payments experience easy and convenient.

Here are some tips for leveraging automation.

Save a Payment Method for Every Patient

Consider implementing a billing policy that requires all patients to keep a payment method saved on file with your organization. This is the key to guaranteeing payments. ​

Think about checking in to a hotel. You haven’t received any service yet, but you have no objections to handing over a credit card for the hotel to keep on file and add additional charges. In some cases, you were already charged for a portion of your stay when you initially booked the hotel.

Healthcare organizations can implement a similar policy without hurting the consumer experience – but the key is to make it convenient for the patient. ​ Once a card is saved on file, you can automate the collection of patient balances and deduct payment from the saved payment method as soon as a balance is due.

Eliminate Paper From the Process

Take automation a step further and suppress statement printing for patients who are enrolled in automatic payments. Instead of receiving a bill in the mail, patients will receive notification that the payment was collected and can view their statement and payment information electronically. ​

This is another way to eliminate paper and any physical element from the payments process and ensure payments are completely contactless. ​​​

Communicate With Patients

Trends show that patients want automatic payment options in healthcare. Providers can increase adoption by clearly communicating a few key pieces of information about automatic payments. First, make sure patients know that they will always be notified before payments are collected. As a best practice, have automated notifications that are triggered by certain steps in the payments process.

Once a claim is adjudicated and the remaining patient balance can be collected, send an automated notification to patients via their preferred communication methods such as email or text, to let them know that payment will be collected. Once the payment is collected, automatically send patients confirmation and receipt of payment. ​

You also want to assure patients that you will never charge their card for more than they owe. You can set maximum collection amounts, so patients know that if they incur a large bill, this will not be automatically collected, and they have other options to pay that balance. ​

Track and Report

Using automation does not mean you should lose visibility into your payments. Use reporting tools to track automated payments across your organization and channels so you can see when payments are scheduled, when cards are set to expire, as well as identify opportunities to add automation.

Download Our Best Practices Guide

Our guide outlines these best practices and offers tools and templates you can use to implement an automated payment process at your organization.

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