Please, let’s make paying easier

April 25, 2018
Janette Wider,

Being a busy, young professional, I don’t have a lot of time to spend on the phone paying bills or making appointments. Just last week, I had to refill a prescription (and therefore pay for it) that gets delivered to my home. The only option to do this with my insurance is to call in. I was on the phone for two hours getting things sorted out. There always seems to be some sort of problem accompanied by an extremely long hold time. I go through this twice a month. I have no problem paying for my prescription, or appointments for that matter. I just want it to be easier!

It’s a good thing that we are featuring patient payments and revenue cycle management this month—otherwise I’d have little hope for the future as the patient takes on more responsibility in the healthcare system. There are several contributions this month that mention promising advancements on these topics.

Karen Hauer, VP, Patient Responsibility at ABILITY Network says, “On the patient side, the payment tool should enable consumers to pay the way they want to pay—cash, check, credit/debit/HSA card, or ACH. But providers must keep in mind it’s not just the method they use. It’s also the channel. Customers don’t want to leave their own personal technology at the door when they go to pay their medical bill. Today’s patient payment technology needs to meet that demand, delivering payment capabilities through online and mobile applications.”

Hauer makes a good argument, especially when she mentions payment technology needing to meet the demand of the patient wanting to use their personal technology. I don’t necessarily need to pay all my bills on my smartphone, but definitely prefer to handle them all online. Right now, I don’t have any medical bills I can pay online, much less pay for on my mobile phone.

What I would like to do on my smartphone is what Chris Seib, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder at InstaMed says in his article: “Instead of investing time and money into buying and deploying new devices, why not leverage the smartphones that consumers already have? Healthcare can look to how the airline and hotel industries now allow consumers to complete the entire check-in process via a mobile app on their smartphone, which can be done in just minutes, days, or weeks ahead of time. While these mobile apps may not solve long TSA lines, the apps empower consumers to take control of their experience. If healthcare adopted similar technology, consumers could conveniently and easily check in for visits before ever stepping foot into the provider’s office—eliminating the frustration of traditional paper-based, time-consuming check-in processes.”

I have experienced some medical offices that allow you to fill out your paperwork online, which I always take full advantage of. And of course, others do not have this option at all. I’d like to eliminate the process of waiting to be checked in for an appointment too, so I’d gladly pull up an app to get things moving more efficiently.

Joe Politi, Vice President of Solution Design and Delivery at R1 RCM wraps things up nicely, “When they arrive at the facility for the appointment, patients expect to have their benefits eligibility already confirmed and co-pay calculated. They also prefer a seamless in-office check-in process—one with self-service options. Post-visit, the patient wants to receive and pay their bill electronically for added ease and convenience. Collectively, the ideal encounter for all patients would be nearly all self-service and managed through a laptop, mobile device or in-office kiosk, which is similar to most of their other consumer transactions.”

I really do want my healthcare transactions to be like my other transactions, as Politi says. Easy. Seamless. And most of all, painless. I don’t want to spend hours on the phone anymore refilling prescriptions, scheduling appointments, or paying bills. It’s about time healthcare catches up with other industries.

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