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Technology within your organization’s business operations is only helpful if it simplifies processes for you, your staff, and your patients. For example, our industry is rapidly adopting patient billing portals as a more convenient, easy option for transmitting payments and keeping patients apprised of the status of their accounts. It makes sense that web-based payments and account access is a useful technology for the business of health care; it's a win-win for providers and patients alike. Or is it? When online patient payment technology is working like it should, there’s often no question of its helpfulness to an organization. But some providers' patient billing portals aren’t living up to their fullest potential, leaving something to be desired when it comes to process simplification.
So how's your solution performing for you and your patients? Here are three key indicators to help you determine if your patient billing portal—or your processes for using it—are in need of some changes. It's not being used. Many providers report that their patient billing portals received almost immediate use by patients, even without campaigns to promote their availability, because people today are so accustomed to online account management and making web-based payments. If your patients aren't adopting your billing portal or aren't coming back to use it after a first login, there’s likely a barrier (or two or three) in their way. Look at your portal from a user's point of view:
If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, it's time to consider changes. Accounts are not updated automatically. Perhaps the most important advantage of online payment portals is real-time account updates. This is beneficial for provider and patient, as both can access accounts 24/7 for current status information. If your portal is not immediately reflecting updates, it's time to review your solution. Are you required to send your solution provider post-payment information so that accounts may be updated? Again, technology is most helpful when it simplifies processes. If you're required to take even one extra step to complete what should be an automatic, closed-loop transmittal, it's time to review your solution. It's not user-friendly on smartphones or tablets. Mobile accessibility is essential for any business in today's marketplace—including health care. In the fourth quarter of 2012, smartphone shipments rose 36 percent to 219 million, and the tablet market grew 75.3 percent over the same period the previous year, according to research by International Data Corp. In other words, it's likely that your patients are using mobile devices to keep track of their accounts with your organization. It's imperative that your portal offer mobile detection so that it configures to fit the screen on which it's being seen. If your portal's interface is clunky, awkward, and not suited for mobile's touch screen interactions, you will miss countless opportunities to collect and deepen the satisfaction of those you’re seeking to serve while also discouraging portal users from returning to the site because it lacks functionality.
An effective online payment system should integrate seamlessly with providers' websites, from consistent branding to superior system interoperability. It should be patient-friendly, effectively ensure users of security and privacy, guide them to make payments, track account status, and help consumers feel empowered regarding what they owe. In addition, a portal should work with most major hospital software to aid in the conveyance of the most current collections information across the organization's platforms, helping providers improve collections and manage the revenue cycle.
Emdeon Patient Pay Online is a self-service patient application that provides comprehensive and secure online billing and payment management.
Publication Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Tom Myers, chief strategy officer, The SSI Group, discusses the shifting payment environment and how it affects providers' patient access and claims management processes.
Jeff Chester, senior vice president and chief revenue officer at Availity, shares his thoughts on "Revenue Cycle 2.0" and how to best meet its challenges.
Mitch Morris, vice chair and global leader, healthcare, Deloitte, and Michael O'Rourke, senior vice president and chief information officer, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), share perspectives on the need for transformational IT in health care today.
Brian Kueppers, founder and CEO, Apex, discusses the importance of a robust patient payment strategy in boosting organization revenue and enhancing patient satisfaction.
Brian Grazzini, CFO, HealthPort, describes the importance of efficient and compliant information exchange and audit management in helping HIM staff spend less time on paperwork and more on mission-critical projects.
Cindy Matthews, executive vice president, Community Hospital Corporation, discusses how rural and community hospitals can use collaborative partnering to position for success through tough market conditions.
Rick Heise, senior vice president, revenue cycle, at Cerner Corporation, discusses the importance of integrating clinical and financial data to excel in health care’s changing payment environment.
Russ Graney, founder and CEO for Aidin, and John Laursen, head of business development for Aidin, share insights on how to improve care transitions between acute and post-acute care settings and incentivize high-quality patient outcomes.
Scott Elston, strategic accounts manager, GE Healthcare Services, describes how substantial cost reduction in health care requires rethinking business strategy and asset use.
Robert Williams, MD, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Arielle Freiberger, product strategist, ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte, explain how sophisticated retrospective, real-time, and predictive data analytics can inform decision making to reduce costs and improve care.
Stuart Hanson, director of business development (healthcare solutions) at Citi Retail Services, discusses how improving the payment experience can benefit consumers and healthcare providers.
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