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A patient payment portal has provided Baptist Health Systems (BHS) with two positive results: simplifying and automating the collection of patient receivables-including $39,000 in one month-and, most important, satisfying and empowering patients.

Baptist Health Systems (BHS), Jackson, Miss., knows it is essential to make online experiences as meaningful and simple as possible to stay connected with-and to empower-patients who are increasingly responsible for the payment of their health care.

When BHS implemented its online payment portal for patients last year, its initial goals were to collect revenue more promptly and fully, with less drain on staff time and resources. However, more than a year after launch, Angie Buckley, director of business operations, reports that the top outcome of the BHS online patient payment solution is not revenue-centric-though the system has performed as anticipated in aiding collections. The most positive result for BHS is the empowerment and satisfaction of patients.

According to Buckley, the decision to take payments online was primarily driven by patient demand. Internal initiatives related to revenue and paperless efficiencies played supporting roles.

"Patients were asking for it. They're Internet savvy and used to being able to pay for other things online," she explains. "It was just time."

The responsiveness to patient demand has paid off-figuratively and literally. Even with no messaging campaigns or marketing fanfare, patients found and began using the online payment portal. Adoption of the solution has grown organically and steadily over time, and BHS is pleased with the sustained usage and dollar amount of payments received.

"In April of this year, we saw more than $39,000 in payments come in electronically, aligned with 372 users of the online payment portal," says Buckley. "We've seen consistent, organic growth and consider the endeavor successful."

Buckley and the team at BHS have learned firsthand the core truth that patient-friendly payment solutions are patient-empowering tools. Online payment alternatives give patients access not only to more flexible ways to pay but to updated, thorough account information. Patients who feel engaged and informed regarding account status are also strengthened to make more complete, timely payments. Ultimately, patient-friendly solutions bear positive returns for revenue-centric initiatives-it's a true win-win. 

10 Tips for Success

Ready to implement an online payment portal for your organization? Here are 10 tips you should consider to help ensure your online payment solution passes the patient-friendly test.

Ensure your payment portal provider adheres to payment information security standards. To protect your patients from identity theft and fraud, make sure your payment portal vendor is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. The PCI Data Security Standard is a set of requirements designed to ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Major credit card companies have directories that list compliant service providers. Be sure to check this list during your selection process.

Leverage your hospital's brand, including color palette, logo, and font preferences. Create a payment portal that visually marries to your established brand. This gives patients comfort and assurance that they are logged into the right place to manage their accounts.

Display privacy policies prominently-preferably before login. Make certain that security and privacy policies/statements are provided before login and may be accessed via the site from any page or screen. Consider integrating the requirement for users to "accept" the terms upon first-time initiation of their online accounts.

Offer ways for account holders to contact you, including phone number, contact us form/email, and physical mailing address. On every page or screen, offer phone numbers, email addresses, and tips on how to effectively submit questions and comments for the most expedient response. Likewise, it's advisable to offer an easy-to-complete contact form. This form can guide submitters to narrow down their topics so that you can more readily direct them to staff members for response.

Configure systems to allow for recurring payments. Offer account holders options to schedule recurring payments to simplify and expedite the payment process.

Communicate refund policy. While you may traditionally associate this concept with online retailers, offering a refund policy for patients is equally important in the event a patient needs to cancel a previously submitted payment.

Simplify the graphical user interface (GUI). In general, keep the GUI simple and easy to navigate. Make the patient experience on this portal a positive one.

List an FAQ that includes commonly asked questions. Provide answers to commonly asked questions, either through an FAQ page or through well-stated content throughout the site.

Ensure text is large enough to make it easy to read and understand. Eleven-point font should be the minimum. You could also incorporate an icon, such as a magnifying glass, that lets users know they can click the icon to enlarge the information on the page.

Create similar payment portals in other languages. Take a look at your patient population. How many speak little or no English or English is their second language? To help all of your patients feel confident making payments online, consider creating a multilingual website or develop separate sites translated for various languages that are linked to your primary payment portal.


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


Publication Date: Thursday, September 08, 2011