Financial Management – Unpaid bills threaten to undermine health care sector

May 09, 2017
From the May 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Whether in health care or in retail, the user experience is critical to a satisfied customer. Once someone becomes frustrated with an online payment process they may quit, intending to use another means of payment later. But with busy lives, they simply forget until the next bill arrives.

A confusing user interface can also result in payees submitting the incorrect amount, placing the burden on the administration team at the health care provider to correct. In either case, this means increased costs to you and increased time before the revenue can be realized.

Autonomous payment options
Some health care providers don’t offer online payment options, or they offer a limited number of options. This could be their own choice, a lack of resource availability or because their office software doesn’t offer payment options. Practitioners should look closely at the features of their software because consumers expect to have payment choices that fit their needs.

With the increase in HDHPs, choice in payment becomes critical for a number of reasons. The significant increase in patient responsibility means that more patients will seek out the ability to pay with a credit card or to pay over time.

Health care provider software needs to be able to accept different forms of payment to prevent blocking a patient from submitting payment when they are looking to do so. Taking electronic payments from a credit card gives patients the freedom to pay bills quickly while potentially even using cards that give them loyalty points and miles.

For larger payments, or for those patients struggling to pay a bill, regular payments over time can mean the difference between a provider seeing revenue or having to write off a debt. But remember, convenience is key for both the patient and the provider. Having to send out multiple bills or follow-up monthly with patients only serve to increase administrative costs and headaches.

Instead, allowing payments to be automatically deducted from a bank account by offering an eCheck option allows patients to set and forget their payments. This also gives the provider a cost-effective means of collecting outstanding balances.

The burden of health care costs on the consumer is only likely to increase over time as patients continue to opt for HDHPs. It’s critical that health care providers adapt their administration and payment systems to make payments easier for patients, or risk facing an increasing burden of outstanding patient debt.

About the author: Preston Glenn has been with Forte Payment Systems for 9 years and manages the Inside Sales team and the Account Executive team.

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