Industry Watch – September 2014

Aug. 22, 2014


How to secure faster payments from patients

By Brian W. Kueppers, Founder and CEO, Apex Information Technologies

Electronic payments from patients can increase the average speed of collections, because they eliminate mail transit and check-processing times. In addition, patients who pay online tend to pay quickly. According to an internal study of payment data including multiple large healthcare organizations:
  • Thirteen percent of all electronic payments were received within five days of the statement date – a near impossibility for payments sent by mail as a physical check.
  • Of all electronic payments received, 87 percent arrived before the due date (30 days).
  • Patients appear most likely to immediately make payment when presented with a “no-login” (quick-pay) online option. Twenty-nine percent of “no-login” online payments were received within five days!

By offering a no-login (quick-pay) option, providers may be able to speed up average payment time while also achieving a higher overall percentage of patients paying online. The issue is convenience. According to Microsoft, the average Internet user has 25 online accounts that require passwords and types an average of eight passwords per day. Some patients may be reluctant to create “yet another” online account. In a separate internal study, 73 percent of online payments arrived through the no-login option when patients were offered both traditional “login required” and no-login options. 

Some providers may not be familiar with how a no-login option works. Unique identifying codes can be included on patient statements. Patients then simply enter the code via a link from the provider’s website and are transferred to a payment screen, which should be pre-populated with patient-specific information to reduce typographical errors created when patients are asked to enter their own name, address, payment amount and other identifiers.

A full-featured traditional portal also complements the quick-pay option. With a traditional portal, providers can employ single sign-on (SSO) technology to link together the traditional payment portal with the electronic health record (EHR) portal. Not only can this help raise EHR use by patients already familiar with logging in to pay their bills, but it also allows users to manage their provider relationship and account records comprehensively. The ideal approach is to offer both options: appeal to the greatest number of patients for the best combined results.

Contact Kueppers at [email protected] or visit

Data Management

Are you prepared for Active Directory disaster recovery?

If your organization is unprepared for an Active Directory (AD) incident or disaster, you are not alone.

Dell Software commissioned Dimensional Research to poll IT leaders and professionals responsible for AD health at companies with more than 2,000 employees. The goal of the survey was to evaluate existing recovery capabilities among Active Directory users, as well as concerns with those capabilities. In many enterprises, AD is the core authentication method, so mission-critical applications, email, access to files and many other functions can be impacted by AD failures. Survey results showed:

  • While less than half of organizations surveyed said they have a robust AD disaster recovery (DR) plan in place, 45 percent either don’t test their DR plan or have a regular strategy for testing it, opening up the organization to incidents or disasters that could potentially harm the business.
  • Those who do have a DR plan, but don’t test it frequently, cited difficulty with setting up the test environment as the primary reason why.
  • When it comes to the discrepancy between management and frontline employees on the number and types of incidents or disasters, management respondents indicated forest-level incidents/disasters occur at half the rate noted by frontline staff. The forest level forms the security boundaries for the AD logical structure.
  • Given that the cost of AD downtime can soar to $5 million per hour for organizations with 2,000 to 5,000 employees, and above $5 million per hour for organizations with more than 5,000 employees, it’s important that all IT staff be aware of the risks.

What’s an organization to do? Dell provides its own option in the form of Dell Recovery Manager for Active Directory Forest Edition, which helps IT departments set up a virtual AD test lab to speed testing of DR plans, software patches and more – and even watching for warning signs of possible AD issues before they become disasters. This solution also automates and simplifies the recovery of a forest or domains simultaneously, quickly restoring the environment to a point in time before the corruption occurred.


Solving the patient no-show problem

When patients forget appointments, practices lose money. Up to 10 percent of scheduled doctor’s appointments are missed each year in the United States, and patient no-shows can cost individual physicians as much as $150,000 per year.

But can reminders really make a difference? One study showed that automated appointment reminders improved no-show rates by 26 percent – and in some extreme cases up to 70 percent. On the flip side, high no-show rates were found only in about one-quarter of practices that use patient reminders.

“The most effective automated reminder programs can be customized to meet the unique needs of each individual practice and allow two-way communication so patients can confirm they will make the appointment,” says Peter J. Murdza, Senior Marketing Specialist for HealthWave Connect from PhoneTree.


QR Code wins popularity contest

The QR Code development team from DENSO Wave and Toyota Central R&D Labs was awarded the European Inventor Award Popular Prize at a ceremony held June 17, 2014, in Berlin, Germany.

First introduced in 1994, the Quick Response (QR) Code – that compact, two-dimensional barcode that can hold many times more information than a one-dimensional barcode and in a smaller space – continues to evolve. Latest iterations include the Security QR Code (SQRC), which can contain both encrypted as well as normally readable data, and the LogoQ and LogoQ Face, which allow a full-color logo or photo to be embedded into a QR Code.

The Popular Prize award is given annually by the European Patent Office to inventors of “technologically, socially and economically excellent inventions.” The winner is chosen by a public vote. The info-packed QR Code symbol received just under 6,000 of the more than 20,000 votes cast online from around the world during the run-up to the event.

DENSO Wave’s Masahiro Hara led the QR Code development team that won the 2014 European Inventor Award Popular Prize.

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