Taking the sting out of patient bill payment
In the United States, 67% of people experience some anxiety or stress when paying bills.1 Because individuals must engage in this activity regularly, it can surpass going to the doctor or planning for college tuition as a chief cause for worry. Papaya, a venture-capital backed technology startup based in Los Angeles, wanted to tackle the stress surrounding bill payment and set about creating a user-friendly app for meeting financial obligations.
“One of the drivers for our work emerged when we realized that only 27% of America’s bills2 are paid via mobile device, which is a significant anomaly when compared to how many people use their phones for e-commerce or gaming,” says Patrick Kann, CEO and co-founder of Papaya. “Up until this point, the only mobile solutions for bill payment have been mobile-optimized websites or applications that use QR codes. Neither of these are ideal in terms of the user experience.”
How the app works
Papaya is a free app that anyone can use to pay any bill, ranging from parking tickets to non-profit donations to healthcare bills. After downloading the app onto a smartphone or tablet, an individual uses it to snap a picture of a bill, including the invoice amount, account information and due date. The app then pays the bill electronically using the person’s preferred payment method. The technology securely delivers payment to the billing organization, adhering to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard’s (PCI DSS) strict data management rules.
Papaya has received a positive response from consumers since going live. “Our IOS app rating is a 4.9 out of 5 stars, which is especially impressive for a new app,” says Kann. “Part of our success can be attributed to the innovative technology behind the solution. We have invested substantial resources to create highly precise computer vision technology that allows us to accurately capture information on a bill. Our solution extracts information using artificial intelligence to understand what it’s seeing.”
The company has also focused on ensuring secure payment automation to safeguard the patient’s financial information. The app is bank-level secure, PCI compliant (level II), HIPAA compliant and data is always transferred over a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection. Although the tool uses electronic means for payment whenever possible, the company can even mail a check on an individual’s behalf if needed.
Making patient payment easy
An overwhelming majority of Papaya’s payments are sent to healthcare organizations. “More than 80% of our payments are healthcare-related,” says Kann. “In most cases, these bills are one-time events that don’t arrive on a set schedule. Consequently, an individual cannot set up an automated, recurring payment for this type of bill, as they could with an electric or cable bill. Our technology allows people to pay an invoice with a picture and a few swipes — making it ideal for paying one-off bills like those from healthcare organizations.”
Papaya has worked with 120,000 healthcare-related businesses across the U.S. to offer the app as an additional payment method for their customers. These organizations include the solution in their menu of payment options, alongside online, phone and traditional mail. A healthcare organization doesn’t have to invest anything to recommend the app. There are no fees, no commitment and the tool is easy to set-up. Papaya does not need to have a relationship with the biller to pay them: The app automates payments, and healthcare organizations process them as they normally would a credit card payment. “I would say a majority of organizations reading this article probably have already received payments via Papaya,” says Kann. “However, by taking the next step and actively suggesting the app as a payment method for patients, organizations can build awareness, which in turn can help them address accounts receivable challenges and boost patient satisfaction.”
Healthcare organizations already promoting Papaya are seeing positive results. “Papaya users tend to make payments faster: One of our healthcare partners noted that 63% of Papaya payments came within 20 days of billing,” says Kann. “Another provider saw an 18% drop in its accounts receivable after including the app in its payment option menu.” Along the same lines, a leading medical practice management firm was able to cut down on the number of applications it used to ensure PCI-compliant credit card payments, going from 15 apps to 3, which saved the organization valuable time, effort and resources. The entity has been able to collect $2.7 million in patient payments through the Papaya app since it started making patients aware of it.
Reducing patient phone calls
The Papaya app provides a convenient alternative to many different payment vehicles. However, it is having the biggest impact in replacing customer phone calls. “One of our healthcare partners saw a 36% drop in inpatient phone calls after introducing the Papaya app,” says Kann. “At first, this was a surprise because we thought the app might displace more web payments. And yet, the more we thought about it, the more it made sense. When customers review their mail and notice there are medical bills to be paid, they may not have their computer handy to jump on the website and make a payment. However, they will probably have their phone within easy reach. In the past, they may have made a phone call to pay the bill, trying to quickly meet their responsibilities and move on with their day. Unfortunately, this approach can involve long wait times or the individual may be trying to make a payment after hours. By accessing the mobile app on their smartphone, patients can pay their bills faster with less hassle. This improves their satisfaction not only with the app, but with the healthcare organization as well.”
Because the app cuts down on the number of phone calls, it allows healthcare organizations to repurpose staff to other areas that require more direct patient interaction. Moreover, the calls the organization does receive are the ones that require a human touch, and staff will be more available to spend time with those patients and address their questions and concerns.
A commitment to innovation
Papaya is always looking for ways to ease the billing process. “Right now, our focus is on helping people pay their bills,” says Kann. “Going forward, we hope to let patients receive bills on the app as well as pay them, so the entire life cycle is in one place. We also are exploring the idea of offering financing and payment plans to further enable straightforward financial management.”
- APA public opinion poll – Annual Meeting 2018. March 23-25, 2018. (Accessed October 28, 2019).
- Mobile bill pay adoption steadily grows. July 2, 2015. (Accessed October 28, 2019).
Papaya is transforming the way patients pay their healthcare bills. Through its convenient, user-friendly payment app that seamlessly integrates with healthcare organizations’ current accounts receivable processes, both sides of the patient financial transaction can enjoy a positive payment experience. Learn more about Papaya.