Simplified Solutions from Our Sponsor

If patients aren’t coming back to use a payment portal after they login the first time, it’s likely that poor functionality is driving them away. 


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.

Evaluate Your Patient Billing Portal

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:

  • Is it easily accessible through the home page of your main website?
  • Does it carry the same branding and visual elements found on all other patient communications?
  • Does it appear secure and offer statements assuring privacy and security?
  • Is the login process intuitive and is it a breeze to retrieve forgotten login credentials?
  • Is the graphical interface well designed and easy to use?

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. 

Identify Critical Capabilities

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