5 Reasons to Automate Payments at Your Practice
Patients are paying a larger portion of their medical bills due to a rise in high-deductible insurance plans. The use of these plans has rapidly grown over the past decade, with enrollment increasing from 14% in 2007 to 43% in 2017.
At the same time, people are having trouble paying medical bills. Patients frequently owe more on balances than in the past, and coming up with the funds is keeping them away from the doctor. Estimates suggest that one in four Americans skips medical treatment due to cost.
Practices are motivated to help patients get the care they need most, but at the same time, they need to “keep the lights on” and ensure that cash flow is healthy. Automating payments is a powerful tool that allows you to have a conversation about payment early and empowers patients to make care affordable. Check out these five reasons to automate payments at your practice.
- Making payments is easier. People are accustomed to automated payment options. They are using “card on file” technology to order takeout, groceries, on-demand entertainment and more. Using this technology, you can talk with patients about their financial responsibility early in the process. If the patient is having trouble affording the entire balance, you can split those payments into smaller amounts with a personalized payment plan.
- Reduces costs. Old-fashioned paper statements are costly. You must send paper statements, handle follow-up questions, and continue to send those statements until the patient finally pays. Automating payments enables you to go “paper free” and eliminates the cost of ongoing mailings. Digital tools provide real-time information about payment details, which eliminates customer confusion and valuable employee time.
- Reduces patient confusion. Imagine that a patient receives a large medical bill in the mail. The patient can’t afford to pay the entire balance, so she sends a check for half of the bill. Shortly after, she receives a new bill that does not reflect her recent payment. Due to paper statements and posting delays, now the patient is confused. She must call the office to clarify, which creates stress, frustration and potentially anger. Automating payments and providing patient estimation eliminates this scenario as patients are always up to date on what they owe, and there are no posting delays and paper statements.
- Creates greater privacy. Privacy isn’t guaranteed with text or email, but there is a greater chance that only the patient will see those payment reminders versus a paper statement. In fact, 65% of data breaches occurred through paper- and film-based records, according to the American Journal of Managed Care. Additionally, text messages are almost always read, and they are read fast. Ninety-eight percent of text messages are read, and 90% of people read them within the first three minutes.
- Reduce collection and write-off costs. Among the top challenges that practices face are late payments and bad debt. Practices need to collect money faster and improve cash flow. Automated payments allow you to collect payments upfront and reduce the cost associated with collections and write-offs. Answer questions about the cost of service before sending the bill to minimize questions and confusion that can result in bad debt. How can patient satisfaction be improved? People prefer less effort when paying bills, and as long as they understand the amount that they owe upfront, many will prefer making automatic payments to the effort required to pay a paper bill.
Moving forward with stronger patient relationships
Patient expectations are driving change in health care. At the same time, the financial model of who is paying practices is changing. As more of your revenue comes directly from patients, it’s important to adjust your technology to fit those expectations. They want automatic payment options, they want the ability to pay bills from their smartphones and tablets, and they want to set up payment plans when they can’t afford to pay the entire balance.
Empowering patients with the payment options and tools they want most, allows you to become the preferred provider for patients and build deeper and more meaningful relationships. As a result, they will happily tell friends and family about your practice, which will drive success for your practice in the future.