hiropractors, like many other healthcare providers, tend to operate individually or in small groups (1-3 providers) with a limited amount of administrative staff to manage cash flow and collect for services rendered. Matt Llewellyn, VP of Healthcare Sales at BillingTree, takes a look at three methods of patient payment processing which chiropractors may use to improve collections and cash flow.
There are distinct challenges in terms of managing cash flow and collecting patient payments for smaller professional practices with limited back-office staff to manage all the administrative processes needed to support the business.
These three optional patient payment processing methods can help practices implement simple procedures to improve operational efficiencies through the use of readily available technologies. The payment options range from the basics of processing paper check payments more efficiently to the more advanced payment options such as SMS and personalized web portals.
Method One: ACH – every check counts!
Although many people elect to pay bills with debit and credit cards, a significant number of payments are still made by check. If your practice accepts paper checks there is no reason for you to continue the paper process to deposit the funds. Why not convert the check to an electronic deposit?
One easy way to convert the paper payment to an electronic deposit is through the use of a scanner that will convert the check to an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transaction. The check is converted to an electronic file which is then sent through ACH payment-processing gateways. ACH payments processing provides more efficient cash management capabilities and lower costs than traditional paper payments processing. Providers that use ACH processing benefit from an accelerated availability of funds, with cleared funds deposited directly into their accounts.
One thing you want to be sure of when converting paper checks to an ACH transaction is that the checks being converted are coded with the correct SEC code. The code used varies based on how the check was received as well as whether the check is from an individual or a business.
Another factor to consider is having the ability to automate check representment when checks do not clear the first time. You will find there are automated processes which will enable you to pre-set times of the month for check representment, choosing times when the patient is more likely to have funds in their account to cover the check.
Method Two: Mobile payments are on the rise
By providing the patient with this new payment option your office is expanding the patient preference communication offering.
You cannot walk down the street or be in a public place today and not see individuals using smart phones. There is a growing desire for people to interact with others through their smart phone, and patient-to-provider interaction is no exception.
Do you provide your patients with a “preferred method of communication” option as part of your registration process (i.e. mail, e-mail, cell phone, etc.)? If you do, it's likely that some will select their cell phone as the option. For those that choose to leverage their cell technology, why not offer them the chance to actually pay their bill with their mobile device?
Today, patients can pay their bills through their smart phone, and this manner of payment forms a convenient way for patients who are on the go or who are prone to be more responsive when they are messaged on their mobile device. Technology today enables a patient to establish an e-wallet, secured with the use of a user-defined PIN and command on their phone. Your billing staff can leverage available technology to reduce costs associated with consumer contact, including time sensitive notices and recurring check reminders, as well as the expense of traditional paper billing.
As an added benefit, your office is adapting to the changing environment in which the patient experience is becoming a measured metric in the care cycle. By providing the patient with this new payment option your office is expanding its patient preference communication offering.
Method Three : Electronic Payment Portals – providing patient access to information online
The Government is working hard to increase the adoption of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) and patient portals. If your office is already offering a portal to your patients, adding web payments functionality is a logical next step. If you already accept web payments then that's great news!
A few things to consider when offering web payment options to your patient are:
- User Friendliness – to make the process as easy as possible for the patient to pay
- Type of payment options – can you only make a single payment or can the web solution accept recurring payments?
- Using Personal URLs (PURLs) for patient payment – encourage electronic payments from paper statements and invoices, so customers can quickly pay online.
In summary, there is certainly a shift occurring in patient payment responsibility, wherein the patient will have more out-of-pocket funding for care. In addition, technology is evolving and the way patients prefer to interact is changing in line with this.
The question to be asked and answered is: “Is my practice leveraging available technology which best meets the expectations of my patients, while also improving operational efficiencies and cash flow?”
If the answer is “no” or “I'm not sure,” then consider implementing one or more of the above methods to integrate solutions that will help you answer this question with a resounding “YES”.
Matt Llewellyn joined BillingTree in 2012 bringing over 20 years of experience in healthcare and IT. As Vice President of healthcare sales and new business development, Matt is responsible building on the existing success within the vertical and to identify and implement new partner integrations from within the healthcare market. Prior to joining BillingTree Matt held senior leadership roles at multiple organizations including TVP, Channel Strategies for RelayHealth and VP of Hospital Sales, Western Region, for NDCHealth. You can call at (602) 443-5914 or email: