Healthcare payment processing top trending topics

Mike Carow, President and CEO, Wind River Financial - Print  | 

In a world where healthcare is constantly changing, it’s important to take a moment to examine the current trends and pinpoint ways in which your health system can enhance both your patients’ experience and your organization’s billing process.

Here are four key healthcare payment trends noted by Wind River Financial, a Wisconsin-based payment processing company that specializes in providing patient payment, engagement, as well as data security solutions to health systems to keep patient data safe:

1. Payment Integration: The key for easy payments

For many patients, one trip to the hospital leads to receiving numerous statements on different billing cycles. Multiple statements leave patients confused as to what has already been paid and what still needs to be paid. Additionally, it forces back office staff to spend more time with collections and reconciliation.

Integrating payment processing systems with electronic health records (EHRs) means the days of confusing bills and multiple statements are long gone. Integration has the power to dramatically reduce rebilling and duplication. Additionally, integration also provides patients with multiple payment options, including kiosks in hospital lobbies, easily accessible online portals and the option for SMS and mobile pay. Making it easier for patients to pay their bills means hospitals are paid faster and have fewer outstanding bills, in turn saving health systems time and money while enhancing the overall patient experience.

2. Reconciliation: Reduce rebilling while saving time and money

Rising healthcare costs are continuous concern for consumers, but they’re not the only ones impacted by the growing prices. Confusing bills and high costs make healthcare payments a challenge for patients to understand and pay. As patients struggle to pay higher co-pays and deductibles, a provider’s collection and reconciliation process becomes more time-consuming and expensive.

Health systems are beginning to streamline their reconciliation process, reducing rebilling and removing costs. Consolidating payment processing technology into a single platform is one key way to streamlining reconciliation. Providing the right tools to easily match or split payments is another.

3. Patient Engagement: Add the edge of consumerism

In today’s tech savvy environment, consumers, especially the younger ones, are accustomed to simplicity, instant gratification and having the world at their fingertips. Patients’ expectations for their health systems are no different.

Health systems are beginning to adapt aspects of consumerism and implement them throughout their organizations. These items include placement of payment kiosks in hospital lobbies and presenting patients with concise statements in formats similar to those from online retailers. For example, when purchasing items from an online retailer such as Amazon, consumers are presented a simple and efficient statement laying out the price of each item.

Providing patients with multiple payment options with the push of a button along with the option for payment plans helps them pay bills on time. Creating accessible payment options for patients allows providers to get paid faster. Not only does this save time and reduce rebilling, it also makes the reconciliation process go smoother.

Health systems are beginning to implement both aspects to create efficiency and simplicity into the healthcare market. Adding the edge of consumerism provides greater engagement with patients and improves the overall patient experience.

4. Propensity to Pay: Predicting the future

As health systems continue to see an increase in revenue from self-pay as a percentage of total net patient revenue, it’s essential to look for new ways to engage patients in the collection process. Behavioral base propensity-to-pay models are one of the latest up and coming trends that more and more health systems are adopting.

Previously, health systems would only examine credit scores to determine patients’ likelihood of payment. Credit scores only address consumer debt and purchasing behavior, which doesn’t accurately predict medical debt. The new models allow health systems to predict a person’s ability to pay with high level of accuracy by gathering information from multiple sources while keeping patient information safe.

Identifying the ability to pay beforehand offers the opportunity to have an open conversation with the patient upfront to discuss payment options. Knowing a patient’s payment history helps providers establish a customized payment plan that fits the individual and sets them up for success rather than debt. This interaction shows compassion for the patient and improves the hospital’s chances of receiving payments on time and in full.

Trips to the hospital can be stressful, but deciphering and paying the bill shouldn’t be. Integration, multiple payment options, patient engagement and new technology are all keys to a healthy revenue cycle and engaged patients. Keeping up with these trends and implementing upgrades to your health system will help improve the patient experience, keep your revenue stream flowing and your organization thriving.

Wind River Financial is a payment processing company based in Madison, WI. Its team of experts works to make payment processing safer and easier for thousands of merchant clients throughout Wisconsin and around the country. In addition to healthcare, Wind River partners with software providers, banks, credit unions and trade associations to design and customize processing solutions for their clients and stakeholders. To learn more, visit www.windriverfinancial.com.

Mike Carow is a 25-year veteran in the payment, technology and software industry. As President and CEO, Mike’s focus is providing leadership, long-term vision, and strategic direction to enhance Wind River’s ability to deliver value to its business customers and partners. He comes with a diverse background that includes being an entrepreneur, co-founder, and patent holder.

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