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Providing patients with multiple options for payment not only can generate more revenue for your organization, but it also is a patient-friendly billing solution.

Grande mocha cappuccino with 2 percent milk, whipping cream, and an extra shot of espresso. How do you order your coffee? In our made-to-order world, it's clear that people enjoy the flexibility of having choices.

Companies in today's marketplace have begun to apply the principle of maximizing consumer flexibility to payment, as well, and with good results. Not only can consumers select what they want, they can choose how, when-even where-to pay for it. Across industries, many businesses with enhanced alternatives for payment have experienced positive response and more prompt payment from consumers. It just makes sense: Give consumers more chances and ways to pay, and more revenue should come in.

Offer Flexible Payment Options

As health care shifts to a more consumer-directed model, it's time for providers to take a cue from the broader market. Giving patients multiple opportunities and modes for payment is much more than a revenue-boosting tactic; it's a patient-friendly billing solution. Patients who have multiple opportunities and modes for payment-and are fully informed of those options-are empowered to be more proactive and engaged in their healthcare reimbursement.

Traditionally speaking, patients were limited to two payment options-either paying in person or mailing their check to the provider. Forward-thinking providers have expanded that to also include credit card payments by mail. It is important to recognize that patients also want the flexibility to make payments even beyond the hours of operation for your billing department. With the added convenience offered by online and over-the-phone payment options, patients can pick and choose how and when to make a payment.

Today's technology makes it seamless and relatively simple for providers to accept payment in person, by phone, and online. These are choices patient-consumers are already adept at using in other market segments, thus they're more readily accepted for health care than ever before.

While some may think it's counterintuitive to integrate communications about financial responsibility throughout a patient's healthcare encounter (shouldn't it be about the care, not the payment?), the reality is that many patients are comforted in knowing what they owe and how and when to pay. Upfront, honest discussion of payment alternatives demystifies the process and alleviates questions and worry going forward.

Educate Patients on Payment Options

It's essential that providers integrate payment communications at all points of patient interaction to educate patients of their choices before, during, and after care.

Preadmission. Patients can be provided introductory materials to let them know of the forms of payment that are accepted to aid in planning and preparation. This information should be included on preadmission paperwork and the provider's website as part of general patient information.

During registration. Frontline staff can guide initial discussions with patients and families regarding options. Once coverage is verified and anticipated patient payment responsibility clarified, registration staff may invite upfront payment in part or in full.

At appropriate points during patient encounters. Providers may find additional opportunities to reiterate payment alternatives and update patients regarding current charges, notifications from third-party payers, and account status.

After care has been rendered. Providers should address payment in every point of contact. Options should be clearly highlighted on account statements and on relevant pages of the provider's website.

In the spirit of a consumer-directed model, providers should be cognizant of tone and language used to educate patients regarding payment options, especially prior to and during care. When this information is presented as "an opportunity to pay" versus "an attempt to collect," it is fundamentally more friendly, effective, and better for patient relations.

Informed, empowered patients lead to more prompt payments. When providers consider the benefits of offering payment options and opportunities, the choice is clear.

Ready to provide more patient-friendly payment options? Call 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666), or visit us online to discover how Emdeon Patient Pay Online, Emdeon eCashiering, and Emdeon Voice Pay can help you collect more, faster by streamlining and automating payment collection.


Publication Date: Monday, May 16, 2011