In the last few years, consumer demand for digital patient billing and the adoption of patient portals have skyrocketed. Thirty-seven percent of patients want the ability to pay for healthcare services via a patient portal, and 32% would like to pay via a mobile app, according to a recent survey. Nearly half wish their healthcare provider allowed them to pay via contactless credit or debit card, and a third would prefer the ability to pay via payment apps like PayPal, Zelle or Venmo.
The message is clear: Patients want the same seamless checkout experience they get in retail in other industries.
Patients are obviously ready and willing to engage in electronic bill payment online. But are healthcare providers equally as ready and willing to leverage a medical digital billing system? In many cases, the answer is yes. As medical practices have ‘gone digital’ with clinical care (e.g., remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and other forms of digital care), many have also taken proactive steps to modernize the patient financial experience through health care online payment solutions.
For those that haven’t, the problem may be persistent myths about what medical digital billing is (and isn’t) and what it will (and won’t) do. In this article, we’ll dive into five of those myths and provide truths to help healthcare providers make informed decisions about healthcare patient payment solutions.
Myth #1: Digital patient billing creates relational distance between patients and healthcare providers. In other words, it ruins the doctor-patient relationship.
Truth: Healthcare providers that offer electronic bill payment online and other forms of digital patient billing enhance the doctor-patient relationship and improve the overall patient financial experience. In fact, nearly 60% said their perception of their healthcare provider would improve if they offered contactless payment options.
With a digital payment solution, healthcare providers can personalize patient bills and then deliver patient-friendly statements through the patient’s preferred method of communication. The patient financial experience ends up feeling less transactional, more empathic, and more like a conversation that promotes patient engagement.
Myth #2: Healthcare providers have less control over their finances when moving to electronic bill payment online. This means aging patient accounts receivable will increase.
Truth: With a medical digital billing system comes robust reporting and analytics to help medical practices measure success, monitor performance metrics, and maximize revenue. This includes the ability to intervene immediately if aging patient accounts receivable (A/R) becomes a problem. (Note: With digital patient billing, aging patient A/R typically decreases).
Myth #3: Digital patient billing is something that only appeals to younger patients.
Truth: Digital payments appeal to a wide range of patients, including older adults who increasingly own a smartphone or tablet computer. The use of patient portals among older adults also continues to increase with 78% of adults ages 50-80 reporting they have one. Fifty-six percent of consumers over the age of 50 use their smartphones for financial transactions. When medical practices invest in a digital payment solution, they engage younger and older adults simultaneously.
Myth #4: Electronic health care bill pay is not secure.
Truth: A reputable digital payment services vendor will meet or exceed industry best practices. This includes taking the following steps:
- Engaging in an independent assessment of security safeguards
- Maintaining compliance with HIPAA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Publication 800-53 Rev 3
- Offering two-factor authentication
- Performing self-assessments under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
- Performing Service Organization Control audits of handling sensitive information on the cloud
Myth #5: Digital patient billing confuses patients.
Truth: Patients may have questions about their medical bills regardless of whether healthcare providers send those bills electronically or via paper billing statements. However, with digital payment solutions for health care providers, there’s the option to provide additional patient billing support in the form of HIPAA-compliant email, live chat, and SMS correspondence.
Many medical practices have already embraced digital patient billing as a way to enhance patient engagement and satisfaction. It’s time to prioritize patients’ financial needs by exploring medical payment solutions that give them the experience they deserve. Learn how Inbox Health can help.
Lisa A. Eramo, MA is a freelance healthcare writer who specializes in healthcare reimbursement, health information management, value-based care, and patient engagement. She contributes bylined articles to various healthcare trade publications and also assists clients with healthcare content marketing. You can reach her at email@example.com or by visiting www.lisaeramo.com.