COVID pushed the healthcare industry to its limits in the last two years. The Commonwealth Fund publication shows how 4.6 million COVID-related hospitalizations from August 2020 through March 2022 overwhelmed the American healthcare system. After millions of deaths, we realized that our healthcare systems were not nearly as robust as we expected. We noticed the immediate need for increased efficiency, better technologies, and a more hands-on approach. Relying on automation and healthcare technologies is arguably the most logical way to prepare for such a catastrophe in the future. The payment processing industry has taken charge of helping the healthcare sector with solutions that enable an easy and reliable flow of funds from patients.
This blog discusses the four major developments in the payments industry for the healthcare sector.
- Contactless Payments are the Need of the Hour
- Mobile Payments
- IVR Payments
- Self-Serve Technologies Help Customers 24x7
- Hosted Payment Portals
- Appointment Scheduling and Bill Payment on Phone
- Data Security Takes Precedence
- Physical Data Security
- Network Data Security
- Automation Streamlines Processes
- Recurring Payments
- Email Invoicing
- Back-End Accounting Integration
Contactless Payments are the Need of the Hour
Contactless and digital payments have now taken precedence over card and cash payments. Most modern-day organizations that heavily depended on cards are now pivoting to alternative and frictionless modes of payments, such as mobile and IVR.
Applications like Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apply Pay have entirely revolutionized the payment industry, especially for small businesses. Some larger business chains, like Amazon, are even coming up with custom digital wallets to streamline payments further. Learn more about mobile ACH payments for healthcare.
The IVR technology was primarily used as a call-management and routing tool. However, recent IVR contact center developments have made the technology smarter. Now, IVR systems can handle queries, answer frequently asked questions, and collect payments on the phone. We discussed the use of IVR call centers for collecting and managing payments in a previous blog. IVR helps organizations:
- Free Up Workforce Resources with Automation
- Offer Better Customer Service
- Maintain PCI Compliance While Collecting Payments on Phone
Self-Serve Technologies Help Customers 24x7
Unlike most other operations, a delay in healthcare operations can literally be the difference between life and death. Healthcare organizations need to offer fully functional 24x7 support services to handle emergencies. Technologies like hosted payment portals and automated schedulers help hospitals cater to the immediate needs of patients. They ensure that the organization never runs out of funds by automatically collecting a steady flow of payments as needed.
Hosted Payment Portals
A 2018 study by Instamed showed how 90% of healthcare organizations still used paper and manual processes for patient bill collections. While we expect things to have changed a little in the last three years, there is still massive room for improvement. Modern medical billing offices use intuitive hosted payment portals that help patients log in and pay their medical bills with just a few clicks. They need not wait in long queues to process payments before getting the proper medical treatment. The most robust online payment solutions have a near-perfect uptime to help the patients pay without a hitch and get the necessary medical treatment quickly. Learn more about the benefits of top payment portal solutions for the healthcare industry.
Appointment Scheduling and Bill Payment on Phone
Online and on-call scheduling and payment options help patients book the necessary medical appointments with their doctors within seconds. This way of booking meetings and processing payments eliminates the need for a dedicated phone receptionist for every doctor in a major hospital.
Data Security Takes Precedence
Medical billing companies that process invoices for the healthcare sector directly integrate with payment processors like iCheckGateway.com to offer better customer service. Such critical integration helps these companies with an all-in-one solution to quickly view and manage the payment data for thousands of patients on a single interface. The integration also enables the medical billing company to offer the functionality of scheduling appointments and collecting payments.
It helps them manage their compliance efficiently with a one-stop solution instead of relying on multiple vendors for different medical data and billing functions.
Medical software vendors that partner with PCI-compliant payment processors need not worry about PCI-scope at their end. The top payment processors have PCI-DSS certification and Nacha-compliance to help the hospital collect payments via cards, ACH, and other top alternative modes of payments.
The HIPAA security rules mandate Protected Health Information (PHI) which states that the healthcare business and its associates should keep patients’ healthcare data private. According to the HIPAA Journal, American hospitals reported an average of 1.95 breaches of 500 or more records daily in 2021. The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights received 4419 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records between 2009 and 2021. Organizations that face HIPAA violations may suffer an immediate closure of business, followed by heavy fines and possible jail time. Reputed practitioners in the healthcare industry take the rules set by the Department of Health and HIPAA regulation very seriously. Medical billing offices that wish to integrate with a payment processor should look for HIPAA privacy and security badges along with PCI compliance.
Physical Data Security
Hospitals must also invest in excellent physical security solutions to protect their hardware. Burglaries at a hospital put expensive medical equipment at risk, along with critical patient data. They must follow the proper protocols, especially when their systems are most vulnerable during transit, recycling, selling, or donating crucial medical equipment.
Hospitals must follow strict protocols to wipe their sensitive patient data off old devices before selling or donating them.
Network Data Security
Modern organizations heavily rely on mobile computing power for their daily operations. The healthcare industry is no different. Ideally, hospitals should have different WiFi networks for clients and internal staff to ensure that no hacker gets into their systems. They should also train their staff on managing the internal data and not logging in to this network with unauthorized personal devices, which may compromise the data confidentiality and integrity. Some best practices for network data security include:
- Offering limited or no access to unauthorized individuals/devices on the internal networks
- Performing regular cybersecurity checks on network routers and firewalls to ensure HIPAA compliance
- Conducting cybersecurity training workshops for all contract and full-time employees on best data management practices.
Learn how large organizations adopt enterprise risk management for payment security.
Automation Streamlines Processes
Technology automation speeds up processes and increases efficiency. A seamless back-end integration helps the hospital staff view all necessary patient health and payment data in a single window. These three central systems link together to offer unparalleled functionality to the hospital:
- Patient Data Management Software
- Payment Processing Unit
- Accounting Systems
A recent KFF Health Care Debt Survey shows how approximately 100 million people in America are saddled with healthcare debt. The same stats show how a quarter of adults in the country have a healthcare debt of over $5000. Hospitals cannot always expect patients to remember and pay their bills on time. A recurring payment solution automates payment collection for regular patient appointments.
Technologies like email invoicing help the hospital generate and distribute thousands of invoices electronically. Payment processors pair these invoices with a link-to-pay that helps patients pay their medical bills online.
Back-End Accounting Integration
Top payment processors integrated with medical software providers to automatically fetch individually identifiable health information securely and generate bills electronically. These payment processors also have plugins to integrate with the hospital’s accounting systems to complete the accounts reconciliation processes.
How Can iCG Help?
iCG works with medical billing companies to automate bill payment cycles. We help them offer a one-stop medical billing solution with various payment options to their hospital clients. Our immense focus on data security helps these vendors live up to the strict Health and Human Services (HHS) standards and HIPAA privacy rules. We help the medical billing offices:
- Automate billing processes
- Collect payments via ACH and credit cards on a single platform
- Integrate with their back-end accounting software for automatic reconciliation
- Offer a customized online payment portal to their hospital clients
- Leverage payment technologies like SMS payments, Email Invoicing, IVR payments
- Generate real-time payment data with a seamless virtual terminal
We specialize in working with medical billing offices that handle large bill volumes. Speak with a relationship manager to become a partner and automate payment collections for your customers today.