Online payment has quickly become the de-facto way for consumers to access and pay bills. Recent studies from Fiserv and IDC Financial Solutions have pegged the number of Internet-connected Americans paying at least one bill online at about 73%.
But, so far, healthcare adoption rates for EBPP have tended to lag quite a bit behind those rosy figures. For example: according to a 2010 InstaMed survey, only 9% of healthcare providers’ total patient payment dollar amount came from online sources.
Why the disconnect? Part of it is simply a communication problem. A 2012 Accenture study reported a full third of patients aren’t even sure if online bill pay is available to them. That’s a marketing issue as much as anything else. And fortunately, there are some pretty easy low-cost, high impact fixes for that sort of thing (as we’ve written about in the past).
Building an Online Payment Portal That Patients Demand
But what about the part that isn’t just a failure to promote? Well, according to that same Accenture study, nearly 90% of patients surveyed want to access and manage their health online. So the demand is there. But, in many instances, the payoff might not be worth the effort of registration. Some patients view their treatment as a one-time event. Or aren’t wowed enough by eStatement features to ditch a traditional offline pay channel.
In order to shake patients out of their offline bill pay habits, your EBPP solution needs to offer sticky tools: resources that go beyond standard to induce patients to join other consumers in the online bill payment revolution.
What are some of the transformative online billing features that can convince patients of the value that a portal-based eStatement solution provides?
1). Transaction Repositories: Most EBPP solutions feature single statement viewing. Big deal. That alone isn’t enough to get some patients to sit through a multi-step registration. What might change their mind? Being able to view statements for an extended period in a document archive is a good start. But even better is access to a full transaction repository: not just statements, but also payments, confirmations, treatment estimates and refunds, too. That ensures answers are plentiful (and easy to access) if an issue arises.
2). Flexible Balance Payment: For EBPP, balance payment is a given (it’s in the name after all). But many patients see their treatment as a one-time thing. And not worth the time it takes to register online. To grab their attention, your eStatement solution should integrate with the offline financial programs you offer: providing not only a single pay option, but scheduled, discount, and payment plan payments as well.
3). eHealth Integration: Fast, flexible online patient payment tools are great for both you and your patients. But that alone only moves the needle on patient acceptance of EBPP so much. As echoed by the Accenture data presented above, integrating patient scheduling, personal health information access, and prescription refill tools into your EBPP application is a potential game changer where usage and adoption is concerned.
4). Secure, Trackable Online Communication: If you’re like most care providers, you have a “contact us” link (perhaps several) on your website for patients that have questions about their account or bills. Go beyond that with your eStatement solution by offering the security necessary for patients to discuss sensitive financial data online. Giving your patients the option to refer to any and all online communication at a moment’s notice with a trackable interface is yet another perk that might catch the eye of reluctant online payers.
5). Treatment Cost Estimators: Getting clear, reliable information about exactly what a treatment will cost can be difficult for patients. Offering online treatment cost estimation is another simple-but-valuable tool that signals to patients that your EBPP portal is more than just a run-of-the-mill payment channel.
6). Household Accounts: Managing the billing and healthcare finances for a household full of patients can be a difficult, time consuming task. Best-class EBPP should make the process a snap: enabling your patients to link accounts and online notices together into a single master account.
While consistently compelling, those six resources are just a small sample of the myriad ways to encourage EBPP adoption among patients. If you’d like to discuss the ideas you have to take your online patient payment approach to the next level (or hear about the loads more we use), schedule a free consultation with us today.
What EBPP tools have you used to increase patient adoption? What’s at the top of you wish list?