2020 has been a year for the explosion of digital payments, online orders and doorstep deliveries, with the extended COVID-induced quarantines proving that we are living in an incredibly digital world whether we like it or not. Healthcare professionals would be remiss if they failed to embrace this “not-so-new” technology and digital approach to service within the healthcare sector...after all, our patients are consumers and our services are a product.
Here at Wellpay, we take a different approach to medical billing altogether. We’ve addressed current billing challenges and processes from the ground up and asked ourselves: “what do patients want from the medical billing process?” It’s an incredibly important question, because what many providers fail to understand is that the answer to successful healthcare collections can be found not by asking ourselves what works, but by identifying what patients want from the medical billing process and adjusting our processes accordingly to meet those needs.
In the extensive time we’ve spent searching for answers to that ever-so-important question, we’ve discovered the following:
Patients Want Their Bill ASAP
Financial struggles from the far-reaching COVID-19 pandemic are having a catastrophic effect on patient’s daily lives and on the healthcare community as a whole. With many families struggling from job losses and other financial strain, it’s never been more critical for households to budget their spending...and that includes medical bills. If a bill for services at your practice isn’t mailed out until months after the date of service, it’s far too easy for the bill to get lost, forgotten, or ignored. Additionally, your patient may not have the funds to pay you by the time the bill arrives, especially if they’ve experienced an unexpected financial crisis.
Try Billing Via Text & Email Instead
To address this increasingly common patient desire, we recommend that bills be automated and digitized so that they can be efficiently sent through more modern methods like text and email. You’d be hard pressed to find a patient nowadays without a smartphone or other internet-connected device, so this is no longer a logical reason for not offering digital bills.
By offering electronic statements, practices are better equipped to respond to patient preferences, giving them clear opportunities to understand what they owe and simple solutions for making prompt payments. Of course, in order to offer texted and emailed bills, your medical billing process must include software that has this feature!
Patients Want You To Ditch The Jargon
Your patient receives a paper bill in the mail 60 days after the original appointment, and it reads something like: transient lingual papillitis, resection, 15 min. Chances are they’re going to spend at least as much time trying to figure out what that bill is for as it took for their dentist to remove their swollen taste bud. So many providers slow down or completely halt the medical billing process simply by sending bills that are hard to understand and packed full of jargon. Skip the medical speak for your patients and it will save you many confused callers!
Simple, Easy-To-Understand Bills Get Paid Faster
There’s a lot of information that gets sent to the insurance companies that the patients simply don’t need. They aren’t making determinations about which percentage of a lumpectomy to cover! All they want to know is what they need to pay you for taking great care of them. Make your bills simple and easier to understand, for everyone! It will decrease the amount of time your front office spends on the phone explaining bills and increase your patient’s likelihood of paying you quickly.
Patients Don’t Want to Send Checks
Hardly anyone sends checks through the mail anymore, especially with so many concerns about parcel interception. We also don’t recommend that you ask your patients to handwrite their card numbers onto the billing paper - this method is outdated and far from secure. Worse still are the snail mail transactions that involve stuffing bills and coins into an envelope to be mailed out for payment. This is a year that has seen an insane increase in the number of digital payments, and we need to get there in healthcare too!
The Delights Of Digi-Pay
Paypal, Apple Pay, and G-Pay are the future of online payments. If your business isn’t accepting them, you’re competing with the wrong crowd. Contactless payment options have increased in demand drastically since the start of the pandemic, but frankly they’ve been on the rise in popularity for a number of years now. Your patients will thank you when they no longer have to write a check, count out change, or write down their card number and stick a stamp to an envelope to simply pay a $20 copay.
Patients Want a Choice
Without even mentioning the alarming financial situation that many Americans find themselves in this year, financing options are one of the most important things to consider when it comes to how you can improve your billing process. Medical procedures are incredibly expensive - even with insurance - and most people find themselves struggling to pay lump sums to a medical establishment. Patients don’t want to be forced to put the $3000 emergency appendectomy on a credit card that’s going to charge them 20% or more interest per month until they pay it off.
Flexible Payment Options For The Win
Whether you work with a local financial institution or use the features that Wellpay has to offer, have something available to your patients in the way of financing. Not offering low-to-no interest payment plans is doing a disservice to your clients and their families. You can effectively and efficiently build patient rapport and satisfaction by believing in them enough to offer payment plans.
At the end of the day, your patients are your customers. In order for your business to stay afloat, you need to find the perfect balance between a process that is inexpensive and one that brings in the payments on a timely basis. As you task yourself with the challenge of creating a patient-centered billing process for 2021, keep these patient preferences front-of-mind and remember that Wellpay is here to help!