KeyBank’s patient payments system is tackling healthcare’s most challenging pain points

Healthcare organizations are realizing the benefits of digitizing the payments experience.

Payments are critical to any business; they are the gateway of revenue—and customers and businesses both want the transaction to be fast, easy and efficient. By leveraging automation, digital payments are providing a seamless and simple experience, and one that patients have grown accustomed to and expect. In fact, at least 25% of patients[1] expect to receive and pay medical bills electronically but only 8% actually are. Consumers want to pay with the touch of a button, whether they are ordering take-out, shopping online or paying for healthcare. Digital payments meet consumer expectations and enhance the provider experience


For healthcare organizations, the benefits run even deeper. According to Agapito Morgan, SVP and Commercial Healthcare Leader at KeyBank, difficult operating conditions are weighing on all providers. Labor issues are top of mind – with a projected shortfall[2] of 1.1 million nurses by 2030 and 100,000 doctors by 2034 – driving the need for efficiency today to attract and retain the best talent in the future.   The industry also continues to operate under the shadow of a global pandemic with limited government resources and now, increased incidents of cyber threats. “A strong digital payments strategy is addressing challenges, delivering efficiencies in healthcare receivables and helping to reduce costs,” says Morgan.

KeyBank is working with a variety of technology companies to offer a comprehensive payment program to healthcare organizations — delivering innovative technologies backed by the credibility and expertise of an established financial institution. Key has designed its platform to meet customer expectations in payments trends, while solving provider challenges and driving operational efficiency.

With the right advisor, digital payments are a strategic advantage for healthcare providers.

Healthcare industry needs are evolving

In the U.S., spending on healthcare is projected to grow[3] at an average rate of 5.4% per year and reach $6.2 trillion by 2028, which means there’s no time like the present for providers to evolve their payments strategy.

When developing a payments strategy, healthcare organizations must address multiple strategic priorities — and revenue collection is at the top of the list. In recent years, the healthcare industry has adapted to foundational changes in healthcare insurance standards, including the emergence of the Affordable Care Act (and with it, high-deductible insurance plans) and a trend toward self-funded employer insurance options. As a result, more and more of financial responsibility has been pushed onto the patient. Collecting from a patient can be more involved than collecting from an insurance company, requiring a systematized method and multiple payment options.

“Providers are looking for an efficient and automated payment system that can collect, disperse and manage patient payments,” says Tom Hughes, Lead Healthcare Payments Advisor at KeyBank. As healthcare organizations continue to manage costs closely, the system needs to be cost-effective and transition funds into the organization’s bank account without delay. Automated payments are meeting these needs face on. “Data and AI can help move things faster, leading to more efficient operations, reduced costs and faster collections,” adds Rob Quigley, SVP of Healthcare, Product and Strategy at KeyBank.

Cyber security and fraud prevention are major priorities, especially for healthcare with its strenuous regulatory requirements and a 69% increase in cyber attacks[4]. “If there is any business that understands compliance the way that healthcare does, it is a bank,” says Hughes. KeyBank’s patient payments platform has built-in fraud protection and security to ensure that personal payment information is not exposed to online threats.

The worker shortage is a long-term, industry-wide problem, and one that caused the American Hospital Association to declare a national emergency last year. “If you can’t find people to do those jobs, you have to find another way to do it,” says Pete Wheeler, Group Lead and SVP of the Payments Healthcare and Insurance Vertical at KeyBank. “Automation addresses labor shortages by eliminating or drastically reducing the amount of manual processing involved in the payment cycle, from deposits to invoice reconciliation.” An automated digital payment strategy facilitates the payment transaction and the electronic delivery of health information, and it streamlines accounts payable functions by automating invoicing, vendor payments and digitizing workflows and purchase orders.

Driving patient engagement and retention 

The patient experience is critical to a successful payments platform. Facilitating a payment is only a fraction of the process. Patients need to be engaged and active participants in the platform. “A payment system is not just only a transaction; it is a payment arrangement,” says Wheeler. “You have to have flexibility in how patients can make a payment.” Wheeler says that the experience should include multiple payment options, including payment plans and alternative payment methodologies like a credit card, digital wallet or real time payments.

The payment experience should also adapt to patient’s personal habits and preferences. KeyBank has worked with affiliates to understand a patient’s propensity to pay healthcare debt, using different information than would be used to produce a traditional credit score. “By leveraging this information along with different payment options, our payments system can create customized outcomes,” says Wheeler. “We understand the patient’s propensity to pay; we understand their preferences, and we guide them to select the best payment options for their needs.” This includes paying in a familiar environment, like a smart phone or accessing an embedded link through a payment portal. “You want to provide as many options as possible because you want the patient to be confident and comfortable to understand the statement and make the correct payment,” adds Quigley.

Flexibility and adaptability are vital in curating this experience and driving patient interaction. Ultimately, the payment experience has an impact on whether a patient remains with a provider or seeks out a competitor.

Choosing the right payments solution 

Patient payments platforms have multiple elements. Access to quality technology is important, but knowing your platform is reliable and scalable is equally critical. Small fintech companies offer the technology element but don’t commonly have the robust financial strength and deep market expertise of a bank. “We bring stability and vendor management expertise, and we insulate our clients from a lot of the risk associated with smaller companies that have great tech but don’t have experience in the market,” says Wheeler.

There is also an operational gain. Leveraging a bank to provide a payments program eliminates vendor relationships, which can be difficult and time-consuming to manage. “When you have that complete package, there is a better outcome,” says Quigley, “and an easier one to operate through a single point of contact with one contract.”

Working with a bank is not a choice between technology and financial security. KeyBank carefully selects leading technology providers to create an all-inclusive program in a rigorous and thorough process. “The level of scrutiny we execute when selecting a tech company is off the charts,” says Wheeler. “It is more intensive than the vetting process that a client would conduct for a vendor.” Given their conservative and risk-averse culture, banks perform an extremely thorough risk assessment when curating a payments strategy on behalf of clients.

KeyBank’s dedication to crafting a payments program that meets the varied needs of healthcare organizations and their patients underscores the bank’s dedication to the industry. “Healthcare is a core pillar of growth at KeyBank. Helping healthcare providers think through strategic growth objectives and execute strategies to realize their goals is serious business for our entire organization, from the CEO down,” says Morgan. Payments is a core function of healthcare operations, and KeyBank is enhancing its internal collaboration to provide this service across the platform and across the broader United States.

To learn more, speak to a KeyBank Payments Advisor, or visit





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