Collecting HealthCare Payments from Self-Pay Patients

Healthcare providers are finding that their patients are responsible for paying more of the cost of their healthcare treatments. In fact, a new study from the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) titled “Self Pay and the Benefits of Prospective Patient Engagement” found that more patients are paying their healthcare costs themselves. Based on larger co-pays and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), patient-payment of healthcare costs has increased 10 percent over the last five years.

BillingTree recently published their 2016 HealthCare Operations and Technology Survey. In this study they surveyed healthcare providers to understand their collection needs as well as their adoption of technology to assist collections.

The study found this:

  • Collecting payment after the patient has left the facility is the number one concern of healthcare providers.
  • Patient inability to pay is the number two concern.

When asked about technology that the healthcare provider used to collect the payments, the survey respondents said this:

  • The majority of healthcare providers still collect through the mail (93%) or through an agent over the phone (87%).
  • Using a web portal for payments came in third at 66%.
  • An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is used only 7% of the time.
  • Mobile and text payments are used only 13% of the time.

The obvious conclusion to draw from this is that the healthcare providers still use the very-expensive methods of collecting payments through paper checks in the mail or payments taken over the phone by agents.

Comparing BillingTree’s study to the HFMA study showed a number of comparable points.

The HFMA study found this:

  • Payment-by-patients is increasing. Hospitals have seen a 10% increase in self-pay revenue over the past five years.
  • More hospitals have mandatory pre- or point-of-service collections processes for outpatient services, with that number rising from 9% of hospitals in 2009 to 32% in 2015.

In addition, the study found this:

  • About 20% of healthcare providers indicated that they had “high capabilities for pricing and patient education related to billing and administrative expectations”.  This indicates that healthcare facilities are educating the patients about the costs before the service is rendered.
  • When it comes to engaging patients about paying for their health care, respondents rated pre-service pricing as the most important priority.
  • About 17% of respondents indicated “high capabilities for pre-service automation, forecasting and prioritizing financially eligible patient accounts”.

This is where healthcare providers can improve their collections through adding payment processor software to their system. A good payment processor can improve collections and reduce costs in a number of ways.

First, payment processing software offers a multitude of online and automated means for a patient to pay their bills. Payments through mobile devices or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are increasing in popularity with consumers, so offering those to patients will make it easier for them to make payments. In addition, migrating patients from agent-assisted payments to online or through an IVR lowers collection costs dramatically; rather than spending time processing paper checks, the agents can be focused on other important tasks.

A good payment processor can offer payment plans and methods that can be set up before the patient takes the service. When the patient knows how much to pay and that they have a flexible means of making payments, they will be more likely to make those payments. In addition, payment processing software can be used to set up recurring automatic payments. Bills can be paid on time by the patient without the need for invoices or phone calls.

The advantages of payment processing software for healthcare providers are extensive. BillingTree provides payment processing software that offers a wide variety of payment methods from web portals to mobile payments to IVR systems. To find out more, contact BillingTree or call us at 877-424-5587.