Digital Payment Options for Telehealth Services

Digital Payment Options for Telehealth Services

Telemedicine has grown rapidly over the past few years. Most healthcare executives (90%) report that their organizations have already begun developing or implementing a telemedicine program. What’s more is that 84% of those surveyed said that developing telemedicine services is either very important (52%) or important (32%). This technology became increasingly critical during the COVID-19 crisis, in which telemedicine was cited as an essential tool for “strengthening the health system response to COVID-19.”

This method of care allows organizations to reach more patients, improve patient engagement, and increase revenue through digital healthcare payment solutions. Additionally, telemedicine is estimated to save patients large amounts of time, with the average visit taking only 15 minutes.

The recent expansion of telehealth services is leading medical practices to ask more questions, and among the most important are those related to cash flow. How can you get paid faster for telehealth services and increase patient engagement? 

Digital payments provide a powerful solution

Cash flow isn’t a new challenge for medical practices, but seeing more patients virtually is bringing it to the forefront. Most practices (83%) report slow payments from patients with high-deductible insurance plans as their number one challenge. Many patients are left paying a large portion of their healthcare services, and getting that bill paid can be a financial hardship. 

Digital payments provide a powerful solution for collecting payments and helping people who can’t pay their entire bills. It allows patients to split payments into manageable installments over a longer period of time and set everything up from their smartphone. 

Offering mobile payments additionally allows practices to get in sync with how their patients already do business. Patients are shopping online, ordering food and setting up transportation from the convenience of their smartphones. They want the same convenience in paying for services with their medical practice. A few benefits of digital payments include: 

Faster payments and improved cash flow. Studies show that medical practices are the last to get paid during monthly bill paying. Consumers pay more than twice as slowly as commercial payers do and rank medical bills seventh in terms of importance. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 25% of families have an unpaid healthcare bill, 20% are paying that medical bill over time, and 10% have a medical bill they can’t afford to pay at all. This creates an increased risk for bad debt. Digital payments allow you to “move up” on the priority list of who gets paid and when. Instead of being last to get paid, your practice’s bills are processed upfront or a payment plan is established. 

Reduced risk of checks getting “lost in the mail.” Getting paid digitally gets rid of the time-consuming task of managing paper checks and reduces the risk of payments getting lost in the mail. Online payments are quickly deposited into the proper account, and cash flow is improved. 

Less time spent processing payments. Collecting payments can be time-consuming and requires many staff hours. Manually sending out bills and processing checks is estimated to cost up to twice as much as electronically processing payments. Digital payments greatly reduce this time and free up staff hours to focus on more important tasks.

 

What to look for in a digital payment solution

The right solution is focused on speeding up the revenue cycle and improving the patient experience. Consider looking for options that include the following: 

Automatic payments 

Improve patient satisfaction by providing similar experiences to those they receive at their favorite retailers. Enabling patients to use “card on file” technology will remove the hassle of paying bills manually and help improve their overall experience. 

A streamlined solution like ClearGage’s AutoPay allows organizations to safely store and use a patient’s payment account to pay for balances due after insurance adjudication. This not only helps reduce staff time with patient collection, but it also helps practices go paperless and reduce postage costs while providing easy access to a full suite of reports and dashboards to monitor patient adoption and revenue metrics. 

Faster payment options 

Most people are starting to pay some of their bills via mobile device or tablet. Studies show that 84% of Americans report making at least one mobile payment in the past year. Consider a complete solution that allows you to send customized text or email messages with a link to a mobile-friendly payment solution. Patients are then presented with the option to “pay now” or enroll in an approved payment plan to spread their financial responsibility over a longer period of time. 

Branded patient portal 

Create a more accessible payment experience with a branded portal. Most patients expect to view and pay bills online, and an online portal allows you to deliver this experience. Consider a portal that allows for online bill payment and the option to enroll in an approved payment plan if necessary. This also ensures that patients can view their bills and enroll in auto payment options if desired. 

Inclusive payment plan options 

Nearly half of Americans (43%) have a high-deductible insurance plan. As a result, a large number of patients are paying their entire medical bills even with health insurance. A larger number of patients paying your practice directly makes digital payments even more important. Adopting digital payment options allows you to collect payment upfront and speed up cash flow. Additionally, you can begin the conversation about financial responsibility earlier and proactively reduce late receivables and bad debt. 

For example, you might have a telehealth patient experiencing job loss due to the COVID-19 crisis. The patient also has a high-deductible insurance plan, so they are responsible for all of their bill. Paying this bill wouldn’t have been a problem a few months ago, but now the patient is struggling to fit it into their budget. 

You can reduce this stress by sending the patient their bill via a text message that gives them the option of enrolling in a personalized payment plan that fits their current circumstances. Look for a program that enable you to accept 100% of patients regardless of their credit situation. 

Accurate estimation tools 

Patients want greater cost transparency from their medical practice. This is especially true since people are paying a larger portion of their bills out of pocket due to high-deductible insurance plans. Patients want to know the total cost of the bill, how much the insurance will pay and their exact responsibility. 

Consider a complete solution that includes accurate estimation tools so you can set patient expectations upfront. This allows you to have a conversation upfront about costs and discuss potential payment options if the patient is having difficulty affording the service. 

 

Moving into the future with greater cash flow

The trend of financial responsibility shifting from insurance company to patient is spurring medical practices to rethink payment strategies. This is especially true during the COVID-19 crisis, with so many practices shifting to telehealth and serving patients using a new platform. 

Slow payments and bad debt can quickly cripple a practice’s cash flow, which is why it’s important to implement tools that support getting paid faster. Digital payment can provide a solution that speeds up the payment cycle, improves the customer experience and helps support a healthier practice in the future.