Online bill payment is offered across nearly every industry today. But as is often the case with consumer-centric technology, healthcare practices and medical groups lag behind. Research shows that only 29 percent of patients receive medical bills electronically.
In terms of customer service, this is a considerable miss. Fifty-nine percent of patients would prefer to pay their bill online, but most don’t have that option. Many medical and dental practices use dated systems to manage patient invoicing and payments, leaving patients frustrated — and having to write a check and mail in their payment.
In addition to meeting patient demand, accepting digital payments has numerous benefits for the health of your practice, too. Below we list five top reasons to implement digital payments at your healthcare practice.
1. Accepting digital payments improves patient satisfaction.
Digital convenience is no longer a nice-to-have in business — it’s expected. COVID-19 expanded the use of contactless payment from one of convenience and simplicity to a matter of personal health and safety. Most experts predict these habits and preferences will be the norm long after our current coronavirus worries.
For healthcare practices, adding digital payment options supports greater patient satisfaction and loyalty. In fact, research shows a third of healthcare consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare provider’s digital billing process. In an era of increasing competition, independent healthcare practices can’t afford to lose patients frustrated by inefficient billing and payment processes.
The PatientPop 2021 patient perspective survey reveals that 36.4 percent of patients have left a healthcare provider in the last two years — ‘issues with costs or billing’ was noted as one of several reasons for attrition.
2. Digital payment offers a more streamlined workflow.
Healthcare practices don’t have an abundance of time or resources to waste on inefficient processes. Yet the conventional billing workflow is enormously inefficient. It includes mailing bills, sending outstanding accounts to collections, and allocating front office resources to collect payments in person.
These inefficiencies contribute to delays for both the patient and the practice and can actually impact the bottom line: If paying isn’t an easy process, patients are more likely to put it off or forget.
Implementing an online payment system streamlines the entire payment workflow. It simplifies the process by allowing practices to text or email invoices. For patients, everything can be managed digitally — from viewing their bill to making a payment.
This enhanced workflow means billing staff can focus on other tasks that support practice growth, such as reviewing performance metrics, identifying opportunities for improvement, or training staff on initiatives to further enhance the revenue cycle.
3. Digital payments simplify record-keeping at healthcare practices.
While many independent practices feel they have mastered the art of manual processing, it can be a breeding ground for errors and delays.
With online payments, practices can quickly create a digital invoice, send it to a patient, and receive online payment — all in a seamless transaction. This eliminates the need to manually track which patients have been invoiced, which have paid, and who requires additional communication to address long-outstanding charges.
Instead, a digital payment platform gives billing managers a central location to access patient invoices and to action any outstanding payments. For smaller healthcare practices, this helps improve efficiency at every step of the patient journey and support a healthy growth strategy.
4. Digital payments enhance practice revenue cycle management.
Manual bill-pay solutions slow down practices and don’t facilitate prompt payment. Today’s healthcare practices will often wait 60+ days after the patient encounter to see payment for services rendered. These dismal accounts receivable (A/R) metrics are less than ideal for practices who have a growth mindset or simply want to improve monthly cash flow.
In many cases, a practice only needs to improve the process with a simplified way to create invoices, bill patients quickly, and accept digital payment. When patients receive their bill promptly, and payment is simplified, healthcare practices are likely to see a reduction in days in accounts receivable (DAR) — a key performance indicator for practice growth.
5. Digital payments provide patients a modern check-out experience.
Imagine this scenario: A patient comes to your practice for a visit. While waiting in the exam room for their provider, they receive an invoice for their co-pay via text message that can be paid during their visit or shortly thereafter. These patients won’t waste time at the check-out window making a payment they could easily send from their mobile device from the exam room or the comfort of home. With a modern check-out experience, patients can get on with their day right after seeing their provider. Additionally, every process you can shift to a contactless option in a post-pandemic world, will win you extra patient satisfaction points.
Front desk staff also get more time to focus on enhancing the patient experience — whether it’s greeting patients with a warm welcome or promptly responding to patient inquiries or messages.
The shift to online bill pay: A change worth making
While change is never easy at any size practice, the shift to accepting digital payment for healthcare practices is a transition worth making. Patients will respond to the modern experience you’re delivering, and your practice will reap the benefits of an enhanced revenue cycle, improved efficiencies, and more accurate record-keeping.