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Revenue

02. 24. 22

Healthcare organizations have endured a range of pandemic-related challenges that threaten financial well-being and workforce stability and alter how healthcare providers engage with their patients.

In response to these challenges, many medical practices and healthcare organizations have adopted automated technologies. The 2021 Healthcare Digital Transformation Survey found that 93% of healthcare organizations were adding new digital projects due to COVID-19 and 42% were accelerating existing ones.

With the rapid adoption of new technology comes questions about return on investment: What are the benefits of automated healthcare payment solutions? How can healthcare providers use these tools to thrive during the pandemic and beyond?

A rapidly growing need for digital solutions

Although the need for automation in healthcare patient payments has existed for a long time, the pandemic exacerbated existing weaknesses in the system and created new ones. As a result, the industry has seen some concerning trends:

  • Declining revenues: A report from the American Hospital Association estimated an industry loss of $54 billion in 2021. Fewer than 30% of primary care practices reported being financially healthy in an August 2021 survey by the Green Center and Primary Care Collaborative.
  • Shifting workforce: As COVID-19 emerged, most healthcare organizations shifted team members to remote work. A recent survey by Akasa found that 32% plan to make the work-from-home model permanent. This percentage is even larger (43%) among organizations that use automation.
  • Changing patient preferences: The rise of digital technologies during the pandemic has changed patients’ expectations for their healthcare payments and engagement. According to a study conducted by CWH Advisors, there is a shift from credit card payments to debit cards and digital wallet options, especially among younger consumers. A survey by PYMNTS and Rectangle Health found that over one-third of respondents under age 50 are willing to switch providers to find the digital healthcare options they are looking for.

The good news is that digital solutions can help overcome these challenges by streamlining operations, creating efficiencies, and providing a better patient experience. From a financial, workforce, and patient perspective, there has never been a better time to consider transitioning to a more automated workflow.

Here are five ways a digital transformation in healthcare patient payments and engagement can help your organization boost revenue:

1. Improve patient collections with expanded payment options.

Given the ease of paying digitally and the frustration of paper statements, today’s consumers, especially those under age 35, are gravitating toward contactless payments. The days of paying with cash, checks, and even credit cards are declining.

The CWH Advisors’ survey found a majority (57%) of respondents aged 18-34 preferred using debit cards and digital wallets, like Apple Pay, to make healthcare payments. A report by eMarketer predicts mobile wallet users will reach $125 million by 2025. This represents half of all smartphone users.

Offering digital payment methods reduces resistance at the point of payment and accelerates patient collections. With options such as Text to Pay and mobile payments, patients can settle their bills at the tap of a button. It’s a win-win situation for providers and patients.

2. Offer long-term payment solutions with patient financing.

Buying now and paying later is a mainstay for consumers purchasing many types of goods and services. Why should healthcare be any different? According to the PYMNTS study, 56% of consumers agree.

Payment financing options can help make healthcare costs more affordable at a time when Americans need it most. A Commonwealth Fund survey found that nearly 10% of adults ages 19 to 64 are still uninsured and more than one-third of patients struggle to pay their medical bills or are paying off previous medical debt. What’s more, more than 70% of people who responded to the CWH Advisors survey say that healthcare costs affect their decision to seek care.

While many healthcare organizations offer payment plans for low-income patients or to resolve bad debt, these programs are usually handled manually. They are bulky to manage for staff and patients.

Modern, automated flexible payment options not only streamline this process, they also improve the bottom line by:

  • Stabilizing cash flow
  • Reducing outstanding A/R
  • Preserving patient relationships
  • Maintaining patient volumes by encouraging patients to seek care when they need it

3. Enhance patient satisfaction with secure communication.

Today, keeping patients happy is about more than the care they receive. Technology is increasingly important in how patients view their healthcare experience.

Safe, secure text messaging is a priority for many patients. According to a 2019 health consumer survey by Accenture, 70% of patients prefer a provider who offers text reminders. This is up from 57% in 2016.

Text messages are a more reliable way than phone calls and voice mails to communicate with patients about:

  • Bills and payment options
  • Important announcements
  • Upcoming appointments

By catering to your patients’ communication needs, you’re meeting them where they want to be met. This helps build patient satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Create office efficiencies with automated workflows.

Workflow inefficiencies cost time and money. A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that waste in the U.S. healthcare system accounts for 25% of all healthcare costs. This includes between $27.2 billion and $78.2 billion due to poor care coordination and $265.6 billion due to administrative complexity. Digital technology is a critical tool for managing the complexities of the healthcare system and reducing costs.

At the local level, automated systems can replace manual processes to improve efficiency and reduce errors. Automation-based technology can streamline your organization’s patient payment methods by:

  • Allowing patients to complete registration forms and enter their own payment information online
  • Collecting payments at checkout
  • Posting payments to patient accounts
  • Sending out appointment and payment reminders
  • Sending out billing statements

With less time spent on such routine tasks, your staff will have more time to invest in higher-level projects.

5. Build flexibility for remote workers.

Many organizations are making what was believed to be a temporary arrangement permanent. If the ability to work remotely is in your organization’s future, it makes sense to invest in processes to better facilitate this type of work.

One of those strategies is utilizing cloud-based software. With secure access and a web-based interface, you can facilitate manual tasks such as mailing paper billing statements, handling checks and cash, taking payments over the phone, and posting payments. This makes running the office from home feasible.

Rectangle Health: Your Partner in Automating Patient Payments and Engagement

Rectangle Health’s flagship product, Practice Management Bridge®, offers a suite of solutions designed to streamline patient payment processing. The platform interfaces seamlessly and securely into any existing practice management system or electronic medical record, improving office efficiency and enhancing the patient experience.

At Rectangle Health, we believe patient payment processes should be as frictionless as possible for providers and patients. That’s why Practice Management Bridge includes options for contactless payments including Text to Pay, mobile payments, online payments, Card on File, point of care payments, and patient financing. Our platform also includes solutions that help improve provider-patient communication such as digital registration forms and customizable messages. Rectangle Health has been the choice of thousands of healthcare providers for almost 30 years.

To learn more, contact us online today or give us a call at 1.888.852.3484.

References.

  1. (2021, January). 2021 Healthcare Digital Transformation Survey. BDO Center for Healthcare Excellence & Innovation. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://www.bdo.com/BDO/media/Report-PDFs/Digital%20Transformation/2021-Healthcare-Digital-Transformation-Survey_web.pdf.
  2. (2021, September). Financial Effects of COVID-19: Hospital Outlook for the Remainder of 2021. American Healthcare Association. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://www.aha.org/guidesreports/2021-09-21-financial-effects-covid-19-hospital-outlook-remainder-2021.
  3. Green Center, Primary Care Collaborative, 3rd Conversation. (2021). Quick COVID-19 Primary Care Survey: Series 30 Fielded August 13-17, 2021. Green Center, Primary Care Collaborative, 3rd Conversation. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/170402/C19%20Series%2030%20National%20Executive%20Summary.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.
  4. (2021). Annual Report on Automation. AKASA. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from https://akasa.com/annual-report-on-automation/.
  5. CWH Advisors. (2021, August 12). PatientPayÔ CWH Advisors. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from https://www.cwhadvisors.com/gated-article/patientpay-study.
  6. PYMNTS, Rectangle Health. (2021, January). The Healthcare Payment Experience Report. PYMNTS, Rectangle Health. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://www.pymnts.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/PYMNTS-The-Healthcare-Payment-Experience-Report-January-2021.pdf.
  7. eMarketer Editors. (2021, March 30). US payment users will surpass 100 million this year. Insider Intelligence. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-payment-users-will-surpass-100-million-this-year.
  8. The Commonwealth Fund. (2021, July 16). As the pandemic eases, what is the state of health care coverage and affordability in the U.S.? The Commonwealth Fund. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2021/jul/as-pandemic-eases-what-is-state-coverage-affordability-survey.
  9. (2019, February 12). Today’s consumers reveal the future of healthcare. Accenture. Retrieved online February 4, 2022, from https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/health/todays-consumers-reveal-future-healthcare.
  10. Shrank W.H., Rogstad T.L., & Parekh N. (2019). Waste in the US health care system: Estimated costs and potential for savings. JAMA, 322(15), 1501-1509. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.13978.

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