- Providers are increasingly turning to payment technologies to collect patient bills and improve the customer experience, a new Billing Tree survey finds.
- Respondents ranked "collecting once the patient has left the facility" as the No. 1 payment challenge in 2018, followed by "patient's inability to pay" and "lack of payment channels." Rounding out the top six were "disputes over amount billed," "knowing the correct amount to bill/due after insurance" and "compliance challenges." The least important challenge was "posting to the database."
- The top two factors affecting choice of payment processing services were HIPAA compliance and the price of payment processing. Half of the respondents were collection firms, one-fifth were long-term care facilities and the rest were multi- and single-site businesses.
Efforts to boost hospital finances are fueling activity in revenue cycle management as more providers look for ways to work with patients on payment plans. According to a Connance survey, 70% of providers claim it takes more than a month to collect from patients. A 2017 Advisory Board analysis found the average 350-bed hospital lost up to $22 million in revenue due to revenue cycle issues.
The major EHR vendors, as well as other third-party players, are investing in RCM solutions as demand for services increases. In an earnings call earlier this year, Cerner officials highlighted RCM as a good growth opportunity, along with population health. Allscripts CEO Paul Black has also touted strong sales of RCM products.
The trend is also spurring consolidation as vendors vie for market share. In February, Chicago-based R1 RCM snapped up Intermedix's healthcare division, which includes physician and emergency services RCM, practice management and analytics. The acquisition increased R1's capability to integrate revenue cycles across care settings, the company said at the time, citing Intermedix's more than 15,000 providers nationwide.
Survey respondents showed a willingness to accept a wide range of payment types. More than nine in 10 accepted health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, 82% accepted paper checks or money orders and about 73% accepted credit/debit payments and electronic checks.
The survey also shows growing use of automation, with nearly two-thirds reporting acceptance of web portal payments. In addition, 27% offered payment by an interactive voice response system and the same percentage offered payment by text.
Asked what payment technology they would most likely add in the next 12 months, more than half (54.5%) said web payments. Not surprising given the growth in text payments, more than a quarter planned to deploy text notifications for payments and billing notifications.
"Technology service providers continue to play a critical role in helping organizations of all kinds that are striving to collect payments in a timely and efficient manner to maximize revenues, control operational costs, while also mitigating compliance risk," Billing Tree says. "Beyond simply processing transactions, industry-leading payment processors partner strategically with their clients to provide education and guidance on best practices to maintain regulatory compliance."