7 questions to guide evaluation of financial payments solutions

CommerceHealthcare's recent e-Book, Innovation empowered: 3 pillars of success for digital transformation in healthcare finance, offers perspectives on current trends in financial technology. The report explores how system integration can support optimized process automation in patient financing, accounts payable, remittance management and lockbox. This companion article proposes seven questions leaders should answer when evaluating potential payment solutions and vendor partners.

Does the vendor have the proper strategic orientation?

Providers should seek technology/services suppliers that demonstrate understanding of both today's and tomorrow's healthcare payment needs. Vendors should also recognize that the end goal is not the technology itself but the value it delivers.

Do proposed financial solutions rest on a strong technology foundation?

A core platform that reflects contemporary architecture should underpin a vendor's financial automation solutions. Desirable platform characteristics include flexible solutions and workflow coordination across platforms. The vendor's technology offerings should not simply be a collection of disparate, bolt-on solutions. Also important is a robust integration engine supporting API-first integrations to multiple systems. File transfer capabilities permit data exchange where APIs are not feasible.

Does the solution "play well" with the existing IT environment?

Hidden cost and productivity loss are often incurred when payment solutions fail to respect two areas:

  • Systems. The best suppliers are system agnostic, designing solutions that can work productively with a variety of incumbent EHR, ERP and other systems. That avoids the costly "rip and replace" syndrome that providers too frequently face.
  • Workflows. RCM automation solutions should offer readily configurable workflows to meet varying requirements, rather than forcing use of proprietary tools or manual user workarounds.

Is the vendor innovative?

As they pursue long-term digital transformation, providers want to future proof their IT environment by incorporating innovative technology, services and functionality. Preferred vendors contribute by monitoring technology trends, embracing innovations and maintaining logical solution roadmaps. To complement active internal development, banks such as Commerce expand their platforms with emerging features through relationships with financial technology firms.

Can solutions be deployed at the organization’s preferred pace of change?

Many products enforce a particular rate of customer adoption. Accommodating individual variation and often fluid requirements demands vendor flexibility deriving from:

  • A portfolio of financial/RCM solutions. For example, patient financing platforms must have options to manage convenient electronic refunds as an organization expands into financing based on preservice estimates. 
  • Coverage of the full transactions' spectrum. Healthcare involves both business-to-business and business-to-consumer financial processes, from supplier payments to e-commerce in support of telehealth. Banks bring to their solutions understanding of all types of transactions gained through extensive daily experience.
  • Avoidance of a one-size-fits-all philosophy in product development.

Are high security levels maintained?

Cybersecurity is a major concern from the C-suite to front-line administrators. Data breaches abound, ransomware attacks are rising and the costs of responding to these challenges are high. Solutions must conform to multiple standards and guidelines, including HIPAA, payment card industry (PCI), NIST and others. New security risks stemming from remote work and expanding organizational complexity must also be considered. Integrated automation solutions should incorporate best practices security features and offer strong audit trail and archiving.

Monitoring and responding to these requirements can be a daunting effort for small, specialized firms. Commercial banks adhere to some of the strongest security mandates of any industry and are monitored by numerous regulatory agencies.

Is the technology backed by quality, experienced people?

Companies that deliver value support their technology with a team – not just one representative – having the healthcare experience, skills and commitment to provide:

  • Smooth implementation, minimizing involvement from internal IT staff.
  • Consistent ongoing execution, fast response to technical issues and regular communication.
  • Market surveillance to anticipate needs, offer trusted advice and ensure solutions remain appropriately tailored.

CommerceHealthcare® is the specialty healthcare division of Commerce Bank, focusing on revenue cycle and payments automation. Our team helps healthcare providers reduce costs and improve cash flow throughout the revenue cycle. Visit us to learn more: CommerceHealthcare.com.

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