Can New Payment Processing Technology Improve Healthcare?

For most medical practices, healthcare revenue cycle management is always top of mind. Yet while collecting payments is a fact of life in the industry, it’s definitely not the mission. The good news is that the latest technology can boost efficiency and simplify life around the office and create more time outside of it.  

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Can New Payment Processing Technology Improve Healthcare?

Aug 5, 2019

Can New Payment Processing Technology Improve Healthcare?

For most medical practices, healthcare revenue cycle management is always top of mind. Yet while collecting payments is a fact of life in the industry, it’s definitely not the mission. The good news is that the latest technology can boost efficiency and simplify life around the office and create more time outside of it.

The Changing Landscape of Healthcare Payments

Nearly everyone in every practice would prefer not to spend so much time on payments —they’d rather be thinking of ways to improve patient care and communication. Whether their job is treating patients or scheduling appointments and requesting prescriptions, the true goal is to help patients get better, not to spend time collecting money.

But today’s evolving healthcare landscape makes payments a challenging process. The many changes – whether driven by laws or the insurance industry – have made payment collection a significant part of the day at a healthcare practice.

Focus on the Patient

The to-do list around a healthcare practice is long and collecting payments has started taking up more and more spots on that list. There are many ways, though, that new payment technology can help a practice collect money more quickly and easily from patients.

Some practices are now emphasizing upfront estimates, and either collecting payment at the initial service or using new solutions to keep a card-on-file. When processing transactions, the experience goes more smoothly and keeps customers happier when practices offer a wide variety of options—today’s popular payment methods vary, from credit, debit, chip, swipe, check, cash, on and on.

Many patients, of course, will leave without making a payment and be billed later. In today’s world, it’s crucial to have an online pay option, as they are often a preferred way to pay – this cuts down time to payment, eliminating the lag to fill out and send a check that can often lead patients to forget to send it in.

Free Up the Staff

It’s not just about simplicity. Greater efficiency can also allow staff and doctors to finish their day on time – the work/life balance that is so often unattainable in the healthcare industry. Yet too often, payment issues can prolong the day in many ways.

Instead, the best products cut down on work for healthcare staff. They can automatically post payments to the patient ledger and auto settle transactions at night, reducing time-consuming tasks and the potential for error. Not only that, this will create more time for patient care and communication, the two most central tasks for any practice.

When payment tasks are delayed until the end of the day, those extra minutes can feel like hours. But more efficient processing technology can help ensure staff has a life outside work, and employees return refreshed for the next day.

New Payment Technology Improves Patient Experience

The latest technology has simplified life in a practice, but there’s more on the way that could continue to revolutionize payments. After all, patient satisfaction in healthcare comes from a simple experience every step of the way, from scheduling to walking in the door to paying the final bill.

For instance, consider the idea of wayfinding technology in hospitals. Wayfinding is the process of planning a route and finding where you want to go. Within buildings specifically, it’s how a facility helps people orient themselves and find the right route (think exit signage and “you are here” maps).

Digital advances have helped to create a variety of wayfinding tools that make it easier to navigate health facilities, which can often feel like a maze to unfamiliar visitors. These tools come in several different forms – some hospitals employ apps that guide people via GPS, while others have kiosks or digital screens that offer interactive maps (in addition to the classic non-digital wayfinding tools like signs).

Hospitals have found wayfinding tools and other digital innovations reduce stress for patients and make for a more pleasant experience. Health Tech Magazine spoke with Deborah Gash from Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri about the origins and results of these wayfinding tech efforts.

“We’ve made a pretty aggressive push toward using digital technology to improve the patient experience, and wayfinding was identified early on as an area of focus,” Gash, who is Chief Digital Officer for St Luke’s, told HealthTech.1

Can AI Improve Healthcare Payments?

This emphasis on digital technology to help patient experience is happening at places all over the country, not just St. Luke’s, and it’s not just in wayfinding, either. Better digital payment technology has over the past few years improved in a variety of ways, and there is more to come as new innovations continue to change the technological landscape. 

The use of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) within the payment industry has stimulated changes within the technology. AI is being used to improve accuracy in forecasting costs and to minimize any unexpected insurance denials in coverage. Staff will be able to do these tasks more accurately by leveraging technology, making their lives easier and patients lives more predictable. AI will never be able to replace staff, but instead can make them more effective at their jobs.

Already many practices automate some tasks such as appointment reminders to maximize attendance rates, and more could soon be within the realm of automation. It’s a great way to allow staff more time to focus on the rest of their job.

Focus On What’s Important

Practices should aspire to collect payments as quickly and smoothly as possible, and the latest processing technology is making that a simpler task. Not only that, there’s new tools on the horizon that practices should keep an eye on – as automation and other advances continue to move forward, they can make life easier for staff and more efficient for practices.

Payments keep a practice running, but they aren’t what should keep people busy. 

1 “Wayfinding Technology Makes Its Way onto Healthcare Campuses,” Health Tech Magazine

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