As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the US healthcare industry is facing a serious challenge with increasing portion of payments expected to come directly from patients ($608 billion by 2019 compared to $416 billion in 2014) and not from payers (i.e.insurance companies). It’s 4 times more expensive to collect payments directly from patients so the industry needs to think creatively and use the right tools and approaches in order to maintain current revenue streams.
The process is complicated with outdated systems. Patients still get notified by mail and most online payment portals are not very user friendly.
What needs to change?
- Transparency – practices need to explain the cost of services early on in the treatment cycle so patients are aware of all the financial components that they are responsible for and budget accordingly. As the number of procedures and tests increases, so can the costs of treatment and healthcare professionals need to be trained to discuss this with patients.
- Pre-service payment – if more of the costs are paid prior to the service being received then there is less risk of having to chase payments after the treatment is received therefore revenue streams will not suffer as much.
- The whole process needs to become more proactive and efficient. Surveys show that over 65% of people are prepared to pay faster if there is an efficient and secure electronic payment method.
Technology is changing the industry
The shifting nature of healthcare is driving innovation. Many technology companies are starting to develop payment solutions to meet the growing needs of healthcare institutions and insurance companies. This is not only fueled by legislation but also by growing consumer trends. People are already enjoying how simple it is to pay using a smartphone and this results in a growing frustration when they have to navigate the jungle of healthcare payments. Those providers who adopt electronic payments early will certainly gain a competitive edge.
Therefore mobile healthcare or mHealth is an important aspect to consider for hospitals and practices. With the advancement in technology it is possible to impact not only clinical care but also payments. Wearables, telemedicine and mobile payments have only just started to enter the healthcare arena, but mobile is set for a huge growth – according to eMarketer, by end of 2016 37.5 million people would’ve used mobile payments in the US. By 2017 the mobile economy is estimated to be worth $3.1 trillion by 2017. What’s important for hospitals and practices is that the average value of mobile payments is increasing, and by 2018, almost 64% of mobile purchases will be for medium priced items of between $20 and $100.
Mobile phones have become an inseparable part of modern life and people check their devices on average 150 times per day. They are also more likely to respond to a text message rather than an email so smartphone text notifications are set to become the preferred method of communication when it comes to payment reminders.
There are already platforms that allow hospitals and practices to send appointment reminders and payment balance prior to treatment. Thus, people can save the dates in their calendars and easily pay the pre-service balance in a couple of easy steps. This is a win-win solution that reduces the amount of red tape for hospitals and also helps patients to manage their time and budget in a fast and efficient way.
Mobile pay is an emerging tool that’s already used in many industries and research shows that consumers definitely want to use it more and more for any type of services. This offers them the benefits of faster and secure payment, improves customer satisfaction levels and contributes positively to the bottom line for healthcare providers. 2017 is set to become the year to fully embrace mobile payment in the healthcare industry and those who get ahead of the game now will certainly gain a competitive advantage and build a solid foundation for the future.
What is Scrubpay?
Scrubpay is a cloud-based mobile app that makes it simple and easy to pay your medical bills from your mobile device. Learn more