As high deductible plans gain in popularity, optimizing payments from patients grows increasingly important. Furthermore, projects to increase online payments tend to offer a high return on investment.
As the New Year begins, consider upgrading your online payment system to offer the following interfaces:
Payments through a branded portal. Dedicated online payment portals that require a username and password are familiar to most of us through experience in multiple industries. A branded portal includes the provider’s name and logo, shown the same as in marketing materials and at the provider’s facility. Sending patients to a non-branded, third-party site does not instill confidence.
Payments through a portal integrated with an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. Many providers have already invested in an online system for patients to access their EHR. Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements for Medicare reimbursements make active use of these portals a high priority. Providers can actually help drive traffic to EHR portals by encouraging patients to login to integrated billing portals to make payments. Because patients are already familiar with online billing in their interactions with a wide variety of vendors, the billing experience is a natural stepping stone to patient EHR access.
“One-time” online payments. Patient statements can be printed with unique identifying codes designed to allow a patient to make an online payment without logging in with a username and password. These codes may be alpha-numeric or take the form of a Quick Response (QR) matrix code that consumers can scan with their mobile phone. This is a user-friendly approach that requires minimal effort from patients. Patients simply visit the o nline billing website noted on the paper or electronic statement and enter the unique document code, also listed on their statement, to be transferred to a payment screen. Because it’s so convenient, we see a large majority of payments arriving this way (73% according to a recent internal study)—a percentage providers wouldn’t want to miss out on receiving online.
Note that it’s important that the payment screen be pre-populated to help reduce data entry errors—and the follow-up work errors often create—which are typically increased if patients are asked to enter their own name, address, balance due, and other identifiers.