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Online bill payment can reduce a hospital's cost to collect while also satisfying patients. The challenge is getting patients to adopt this paperless approach to payment.

We are becoming a multi-screen society, navigating between our laptops, e-readers, and smart phones to communicate and interact with the world. On a more frequent basis, we are using our digital devices to purchase things and participate in life around the clock. According to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, U.S. online sales for the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled $61.8 billion, an increase of 38.7 percent from the third quarter of 2011.

So why aren't more patients paying their medical bills online? While many providers have long offered online payment alternatives, patients may have the perception that it's still a paper-based business. Since providing greater payment flexibility is certainly a patient-friendly practice, how can hospitals and health systems get patients pointing and clicking their balances down to zero? Here are five ideas to jumpstart your program.

Tell Them Online Payment Is an Option

Seems obvious doesn't it? But don't presume patients know about your online payment solution. Tell them every chance you get, such as in person, on printed materials, on your website home page, and on signage within your facility. You should also add links in your email signatures to your online payment portal, post information within your social media platforms, and include references within the recorded messages that patients hear when placed on hold.

Make It Easy to Sign Up and Participate

Integrate your online payment account sign-up within your registration process. Train patient access counselors to walk patients through the sign-up process during registration so that online payment is already an option for them even before they receive care.

Give Patients Compelling Reasons to Make the Shift

Offer meaningful monetary incentives for patients who opt to pay online. Whether you offer a percentage discount, provide more flexible terms, or arrange some other reward, assign a dollar value to give patients more reasons to pay online.

Highlight and Integrate Other Available Online Services

Consider integrating other online administrative services into your website to provide even more reasons for patients to turn to your online portal as a resource. See your website as an interactive tool that acts as an extension of your staff. Patients are motivated by simple solutions that save both time and money so make the most of your online portal's ability to do both.

Take a "Screen and Be Seen" Approach

Patients use a variety of devices, so ensure your payment interface (and your entire website for that matter) is functional and user-friendly for the most popular gadgets. You may even want to consider using a mobile app to handle digital payments depending on your patient population and the volume of accounts.

Looking for an online patient billing and payment solution that can help your organization automate the collection of patient receivables? Take a closer look at Emdeon Patient Pay Online or call us at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) for more information. 

Access related article: Patient Demand for Online Payment Portal Pays Off for BHS 


Publication Date: Thursday, May 17, 2012