5 Online Patient Payment Tools That Speed Self-Pay Collections

June 22, 2012 Brian Watson

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The number of self-pay patients treated by healthcare providers is rising rapidly.  And it’s no longer an under-the-radar issue.  A 2009 HFMA Healthcare Financial Pulse study reported that 97% of the hospitals it surveyed experienced an increase in self-pay receivables when measured against the previous fiscal year.  And of that 97%, over a third saw self pay growth of over 10%.

Add in the popularity of high-deductable health savings accounts and co-insurance plans, and it’s easy to see that the effectiveness of your self-pay collections program is more important now than ever before.

So how can you tweak your strategy to accelerate revenue collection among self-pay patients?  While there’s no easy fix, one strategy that many providers have found success with is online patient payment technology. 

Digitalizing bill presentment and patient payment can help slash days from accounts receivable by reducing statement delivery time and accelerating payment processing and posting.  It can also lower the more expensive per-patient costs it takes to collect from self-pay patients (when compared against collecting from an insurer or the government).

But when it comes to eBilling and payment there are plenty of options. Should you choose in-email or a portal based approach? No login or full functionality? Billing-only or a system with additional services?  Although much of that will depend on the size of your organization and scope of revenue cycle activities, there are a few things you should consider before you purchase and implement an EBPP toolset that fails to enhance and accelerate patient payment.

To ensure that the solution you chose offers the best-practice billing and payment tools you need to effectively collect from self-pay patients, you should look for:

1). A simple, hassle-free patient payment system.  This is essential.  Patients should be able to make a payment in moments.  That means enabling: auto-filling of relevant transaction details, scheduling of payments, multiple payment options (debit, credit, or ACH transfers from checking or savings accounts), and savable payment profiles.

2). Fast, efficient payment processing.  And it should be fast, easy and automated for you to receive revenue from the payments your patients make online.  That means payment activity, posting, and return information should seamlessly integrate with your current patient accounting system.

3). Payment plans, discount payments, and pre-authorized payment administration. If you’re like many providers, your organization has probably instituted a number of financial programs that help entice self-pay patients to meet their financial obligation.  Ensuring that those tools are mirrored in your eBilling solution (and can be easily administered by your service staff) is absolutely critical.

4). Online statement access and a detailed transaction repository. Patients will inevitably have questions about their statement.  Giving them (and your service staff) easy access to current and past eStatements and a detailed transaction repository is sure-fire way to step up service efficiency.

5). Account management tools.  Besides eStatement viewing and payment, EBPP solutions provide an ideal way to involve patients in the management of their accounts.  Offering hands-on control over profile and insurance information and a secure, trackable way to communicate with your staff online can help boost patient satisfaction and automate (and eliminate) redundant service tasks.

Want to learn more about how online patient payment can help you enhance and accelerate self-pay payments and streamline common patient accounting tasks?  Contact the patient payment experts at Elite to schedule your free EBPP consultation today.

What statement processing and patient payment strategies are you implementing to help combat the continuing rise in self-pay patients?

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