Now that patients must pay a higher portion of healthcare costs, providers are having a harder time collecting patient payments, which are now about a third of provider revenue. In the past, providers could take losses from patients unable to pay because their portion was so small. Not anymore.
Fortunately, recent evidence shows that when patients have a satisfying billing experience, they are more likely to pay in full. A 2016 study found that 74% of patients satisfied with the provider’s billing process paid their medical bills in full compared to 33% of their lesser satisfied counterparts.1
In a consumer poll by Black Book Market Research2, it was found that:
- 87% want convenient payment options to have a positive billing experience
- 95% would pay online if the option were offered
- 71% would pay via mobile devices if it were possible
Smart providers are already implementing solutions designed to provide a more satisfying experience at the front end of the revenue cycle. Black Book’s 2017 Revenue Cycle Management Survey revealed that 83% of providers are planning to implement more retail-like online technologies and practices that make it easier for patients to pay.
Providers who are using Payspan’s Online Bill Pay, a service that enables patients to make their payments online via any multiple device without having an account, say that the service has been well received by their patients because of the convenience. “It gives patients piece of mind that they don’t have to provide personal information over the phone,” says a representative from Consolidated Medical. “The ability to make their own payments online and receive a receipt has worked out great.”
Online Payment Options Improve Business Results
Providers who have already provided online payment options are seeing an increase in payment collections, as demonstrated by the results Payspan’s service is getting for provider customers.
Online Bill Pay has decreased patient accounts receivable by 80% across Payspan’s provider book of business as well as produced a 75% decrease in patient responsibility dollars sent to collections.
Another business benefit is that providers can also reduce costs associated with managing patient calls. As the patient responsibility has increased, providers have had to free up staff to take payments over the phone and, in some instances, hire new employees to handle the volume. Providing online payment options significantly reduces patient calls.
ProClaims EMS Billing Office Manager Michelle Stafford says that offering Online Bill Pay allows her staff to focus on other tasks. “This has been a very cost-effective way for us to offer this option and I could not be happier at this point,” she says.
Yet, Many Providers Still Not Ready
Despite all of the studies and surveys that show online payment options are getting results, Black Book data has shown that only 20% of providers are currently equipped to enable electronic payments.3 These providers are still taking checks and cash or processing credit cards at the point of service or over the phone.
Time may be running out for providers, as the patient responsibility is expected to keep rising in the coming years. In 2017, the average deductible for insured consumers reached $1,870 while out-of-pocket costs soared to $4,400 – not a small amount for most Americans.4 Since 2015, the amount of provider revenue coming from patients has increased by 29%, and that amount could escalate by as much as 50% by 2019.5
Enabling electronic payment options is not as complex or difficult as providers may suspect and can go a long way toward creating satisfying patient experiences, increasing patient payment collections, getting referrals and establishing longevity with patients.
1-Connance, “Satisfied Patients are More Willing to Pay their Bills,” 2016
2, 3-Black Book Market Research
4, 5-Health IT Outcomes, “The Rise of Consumerism in Healthcare,” Dec. 6, 2017