60 Seconds with Carl Mazzola

60 Seconds with Carl Mazzola

Corner Office Conversations with Carl Mazzola

Karen Webster

Karen Webster

Karen Webster, CEO of Market Platform Dynamics, works extensively with the most innovative players in the financial services, mobile, B2B and technology sectors to identify, ignite and monetize innovation.

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Karen Webster of PYMNTS.com interviews Mazzola to shed light on new payment options for doctors and patients.

Why, all of a sudden, has healthcare become such a magnet for fintechs and, in particular, payment innovation?

It's really the shift from a payer insurance-provided coverage to the patient. So if you look back 10 years ago, less than five percent of what a doctor or dentist was paid came from the patient. That's now upwards of 40 percent. So more and more, a doctor has to look at their patient as somebody they not only have to provide for, but as someone who has to be able to pay their bill.

That's a big change and I think it's a shift that'll continue. I'd be curious to get your take on how much of that doctor/biller/patient gap a payments innovator can really affect? It's often very hard for patients to understand what they owe until after services have been delivered or even have an opportunity to make a decision during emergencies.

That's right. That's really where health is different from any other purchase. More and more as a patient when you schedule your appointment or when checking in, you can ask, “What is my out-of-pocket going to be?”

At that time, you can discuss what your options are from making a down payment or leaving your account on file to setting up recurring payments.

As patients, we too, have to learn that we have to take responsibility for what we're going to owe. In the past, you probably never thought about calling your insurance company to ask, "Hey, how much will it cost if I go to get my knee checked out? Or if I have a sore throat?" As consumers, we should know going in how much it's going to cost. And insurance companies are making that easier for us to find out before we visit the doctor.

Let's talk about the payments piece of this. In your white paper, you make some very good points that consumers are accustomed to having a choice when they buy anything else and, therefore, they expect to have a choice when they're buying health care services. How complicated is it for doctors to integrate and make those choices available to consumers? Do they even think about that as a starting point?

I think what we're seeing is more new doctors coming out of school. They understand that while they went into this to help patients, they also have to run their practice as a business. Just like if you were opening up a retail shop or any other type of store, you would probably purchase software to run your store. Now, a higher percentage of graduates coming out of med school understand this. One of the first things they do is partner up with a practice management software company to help run their business.

For others, it's taking some time. The software that they could purchase is phased in, so they don't have to go with a very expensive one. They can start off with a very basic software that will tell them before the patient arrives if the patient has insurance and how much their insurance is going to cover. Thus, how much the out-of-pocket will be.

It sounds like there are lots of opportunities around that visit or the procedures that may follow, that can be innovated through creative use of payment types and, certainly, of financing options. I guess there are a number of things that you see along those lines, as well?

That's correct. Unlike a major purchase that you're going to plan for, your heath isn't one of those. There are companies out there that will finance it, but we try to make it easier. We try to allow the patient to leave an account on file and to set up a payment plan. That way, if it's indeed a $5,000 out-of-pocket, we encourage our providers — the doctors — to talk with the patient to see how much they can set up on a payment plan.

Maybe it's $100 a month or it could be more. That amount is automatically billed to their card. Chances are most likely, your credit card is going to be at a much lower interest rate than some of the finance programs that you're talking about.

We first try to allow the consumer—the patient—to use their credit card in order to make that purchase. Another option we allow is recurring payments right out of their checking account. So either by a checking account or a credit card.

Do you have any data to support the impact of practice management software revenue cycle management on the ability for practices to collect? I can imagine that as well intentioned as consumers are, when they're faced with a lot of bills, the medical bills get pushed to the bottom of the pile.

Yes. We definitely see higher volumes for the doctors who use the card on file, put together a payment plan and have patient portals.

Some of that is converting cash and checks, but the other part of the growth is allowing the consumer—the patient—to make good on their health bill. So it's allowing them to take that $5,000 or $1,000 expense and fit it in to their monthly budget. That's what these recurring payment plans foster.

Carl Mazzola

Carl Mazzola is president of TSYS' health and public services division in its Merchant Services segment. With more than 25 years of experience in the merchant acquiring industry, he is responsible for managing and advancing the health, non-profit and public sector segments to the forefront of the transaction processing and payment technologies industry. Specifically, he works to increase vertical presence, build new key partnerships, improve and leverage existing industry partnerships and streamline resulting merchant initiatives to maximize value of the TSYS systems, sales and service resources.

Prior to joining TSYS, Mazzola served as executive vice president for Bank of America Merchant Services where he led sales, portfolio and relationship management, product and marketing. Mazzola also spent 20 years at First Data Corporation leading several different business divisions, including the company's Revenue Share Alliance Group and TeleCheck Services, as well as key general manager positions aligned with large financial institutions.

Mazzola received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Kent State University in Ohio and an M.B.A. in business management from Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio.

The statements and opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of TSYS.

Other Articles by Karen

Karen Webster

Karen Webster, CEO of Market Platform Dynamics, works extensively with the most innovative players in the financial services, mobile, B2B and technology sectors to identify, ignite and monetize innovation. This work often includes the development of new products, platforms, business models and ignition plans. As an entrepreneur, Karen has successfully developed and launched several new ventures in the loyalty, online media and social networking sectors, each of which was focused on introducing disruptive business models and product solutions to fill a market need. This includes PYMNTS.com, the leading media property focused on innovation in the payments sector, and a joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway's Business Wire.

Karen also serves as a member of the board for several emerging companies and helps these innovators develop and implement business strategies that drive market adoption for their products and services. Karen is a frequent speaker and author of numerous articles on the sources of innovation, strategy, loyalty, product design/bundling and pricing and platform strategies.

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