Speeding up the payment cycle is a large pain point at medical practices of all sizes. Data compiled by MedData showed that 83% of medical practices report their top challenge is collecting patient payments with high-deductible health insurance plans. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that fewer than 63% of non-elderly households with incomes above the federal poverty level have enough liquid assets to pay a $1,200 deductible for an individual. Over half of Americans (54%) report delaying care due to cost.
In many cases, the patient can pay a large medical bill, but not the entire balance upfront. They need payment options. Streamlining payment options is an effective way to increase patient collection rates at your medical practice.
Payment Options Are Evolving
Patients live in a digital world, and this environment is changing expectations across all sectors of business, including healthcare services. The majority of adults (75%) report being online daily, and a quarter of adults admit they are continuously connected. Patients have grown accustomed to the simplified payment options offered by retailers, such as one-click shopping, card-on-file options, and mobile payments.
Most people want to go digital, and they demand everything from online portals to mobile payment options from their doctors. In fact, 65% of patients report they would download a mobile application to pay for healthcare costs and bills.
The reality is that most practices haven’t caught up to these demands. Over half of healthcare providers are still using old-fashioned paper statements as the primary method to collect payments. And practices that aren’t prepared to offer these newer services risk getting left behind. Sixty-five percent of patients said they would consider switching their provider if the payment experience wasn’t good.
The Benefits of Payment Options and Collections
Many doctors already offer payment plans, but that approach is shown to be only moderately successful in collecting revenue. Offering in-house financing also introduces an element of risk into the practice. You pay more wages to staff who work to collect unpaid bills and run the risk of bad debt weighing down the practice. Often, practices aren’t charging patients interest, which means you are paying higher overall costs for a negative return.
Personalized payment options that are administered by a third-party partner, however, have much better results. Medical Economics reports that allowing patients to set the payment parameters – including the amount and period – helps patients keep up their end of the deal and keeps cash flowing into the practice. But while results can be better, you should look for a partner that will approve 100% of your patients regardless of credit history, otherwise, you will not help many of your patients who need it.
Convenient payment options, such as mobile payment and patient portals, also play an important role in improving billing collection rates. People want to pay for services using mobile, and overall, the popularity of this payment option is on the rise.
What to Look For in a Payment Solution
The right payment solution can help provide patients with greater convenience while at the same time allowing you to increase cash flow. But what should you look for in a payment solution? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Simplified financing options. Patients want the ability to select their own payment options. Seek a solution that empowers people to select patient options based on what they can afford and start paying immediately.
Inclusive payment solutions. The financial circumstances of your patient population vary, and some patients struggle with low credit scores or a credit history that makes getting financing difficult. Select a payment solution that is inclusive and provides 100% approval rates on patient financing programs.
Flexible payment options. Select a solution that offers advanced payment options, such as mobile payments or account-on-file technology that allows for the safe storing of patient payment details for balances owed after insurance payments.
Patient portal for 24/7 patient access. Patients want to access payment details online, and a patient portal is an important tool for making that possible.
Patient support services. The payment solution that you select will serve as an extension of your practice. If patients have a bad experience with the solution, that will be reflected in how they feel about your practice. Select a partner that is as dedicated to patient care as your practice is.
Cash flow is a critical aspect of all medical practices, and when you begin to understand why patients aren’t paying bills – then put tools in place to overcome those obstacles – cash flow improves. In addition, you can increase patient satisfaction and drive greater loyalty and future revenue to your business.