One simple way to improve patient collections by 50%
On New Year’s Day, I bought myself a double espresso at a Starbucks using their app. You see, a couple of days ago I had lost my credit cards and cash. I had no cash or credit cards in my possession and still I was able to pay for a variety of things in order to stock up and weather the next ten days, until my new cards arrived. Over the years, I find myself carrying fewer and fewer bills. Like many of you, I now rely completely on credit cards and online payments which have become increasingly the norm.
Despite this progress in technology, the doctor’s office remains the last bastion of the envelope and stamp mode of payment. I still get a patient statement and an envelope folded with a return address. While major health systems and big lab companies like LabCorp and Quest have allowed payments online, the people who really rely on the cash-flow from patients have not been given the tools to graduate to the age of electronic payments.
So give your patients the ability to pay online. Here are some of the benefits:
Increase your collections. Consider this: about 40% of consumers use the website of the healthcare provider to pay last minute bills and avoid going into defaultso give them the ability to pay online. Give them mobile platforms to pay their bills on the go while they are waiting for that latte, or in your waiting room.
Save money. Calculate the cost of the envelope, the stamp, the paper statement, and the man hours involved in preparing and sending out the patient statements.
Stop paying those collection agencies. Most people are not defaulting on payments because they don’t want to, nor are they doing this because they have no money. They just procrastinate. It is still a hassle to write a check and stuff it in an envelope, get a stamp, and then find a mailbox. When the collection agency calls them, 90% of the patients pay up on the first call. That means you have paid the agency 20%-30% fee for collections just because you have not found a way to make it easier for them to pay. This represents potential loss of revenue that you just paid to a collection agency.
It is a great marketing tool. How so? 82% of people who visit a website of someone who bills them go there in order to pay a bill. These are people who wouldn’t have come to your website and consequently wouldn’t have seen that new program you just launched. People are paying thousands of dollars every month to drive traffic to their website to generate more leads and customers. Here you have a chance to get paid and get more traffic to your site.
Work with your patients. Online payments allows you to send patients reminders and alerts. 52% of consumers want to receive reminders and alerts. I know I do. The same study also found that 54% of those that receive paper bills would be interested in having paperless billing.
Look cool, plus It is where the world is going. Online payments are expected to continue increasing in popularity. In 2011, 60% of households had paid a bill online. This figure had risen to 74% in 2013.
If you are using a good Electronic Health Solution like blueEHR all you have to do is input your payment gateway credentials and you are ready to collect payments online via the EHR independent patient portal. If not here is what you have to do to get your payments online
- Make sure your EHR provider has a good and usable patient portal that has the ability to collect patient payments.
- Make sure your EHR provider has an integrated practice management system. Many of them do not. Without the practice management piece you are not going to get your patient balances to reflect in the portal.
- You need a gateway or service provider like PayPal or authorize.net with whom you have to establish a contract, and negotiate your fees.
- Make sure you can use any gateway you want with your portal. Most EHR and PMS systems have deals with certain payment gateways to get kickbacks from the processing fees the gateways charge you. If that is the case you do not have the leverage to negotiate your own terms. And trust me, you can do much better on a one to one deal.
- It would help tremendously if the patient portal can be white labelled to reflect your website brand and can be integrated to your website. In other words the patients come to your website to make the payment, not to some other patient portal. That is where your marketing benefits are most accrued.
Patient Portals are becoming important tools for a successful practice. It is not just for patient engagement or to meet Meaningful Use criteria. If you find the right patient portal it becomes a revenue generation and marketing tool that can add to your bottom line.
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