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The Impact of COVID-19 on Patient Payment Options

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As COVID-19 continues to spread, revenue cycle and billing executives are trying to adapt and form strategies to better cope with disruptions to their revenue cycle. Pre-pandemic, many healthcare providers were already struggling to develop collection strategies in the era of high-deductible health plans but putting new strategies in place during an emergency can be nearly impossible.

Not only are healthcare organizations seeing disruptions, but there is also a significant impact of the pandemic on medical billing for the patient community to contend with. Fear of contracting the virus has been a discouragement for patients seeking treatment. This is having a substantial effect on the healthcare revenue cycle and provider finances, making it more important than ever to collect as much of the patient’s balance as possible.

Today’s patients are used to utilizing online and mobile channels to schedule appointments, pay bills, and get test results while, historically, it has been common practice for healthcare organizations to rely on traditional channels to communicate with patients and collect payments. The pandemic is influencing changes that have been needed for years.

Since almost 70% of U.S. consumers use at least 3 different methods to pay their bills each month, it has become necessary to be as expansive as possible when it comes to collecting patient payments. Trends like contactless payments and text-to-pay have been at the forefront even before the pandemic and we are now seeing how important it is for healthcare providers to adopt these initiatives.

While contactless payments were on the rise before the onset of COVID-19, health systems should now see them as essential. Patients are increasingly wary of touching a credit card terminal or payment kiosks, seeing it as an opportunity to spread germs. Since digital payments help reduce direct contact, this trend has been increasing dramatically and will continue to do so.

Text payments are a convenient way to turn a patient’s smartphone into a payment device and serve as an additional contactless way for a patient to pay. There are also other unique benefits when this method of payment is applied in a healthcare setting. By obtaining a patient’s information at point-of-service using text-to-pay, healthcare systems can send a digital-first bill to the patient after their visit versus printing and sending a paper bill by mail, meaning faster payments.

Papaya pay is another popular option that allows your patients to take a photo of any bill, chose how to pay, and uses secure payment automation to complete their payment.

Since studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the patient financial experience and patient satisfaction, by giving your patients desired additional payment methods, a faster and easier patient experience is created.

Deanna Gray, Millennia’s VP of Sales, began her healthcare career 20+ years ago hands-on in the provider setting, driving results throughout the entire revenue cycle. Deanna is a Fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), Past President for the Iowa Chapter, and serves on the Chapter Advancement Team (CAT) and Shelton selection committee for HFMA on a national level. She has also earned dual certifications as a Certified Revenue Cycle Specialist (CRCS-I/P) for both institutional and professional environments through AAHAM.