Five Ways to Get Patients to Pay Online

We are a multi-screen society, navigating between our laptops, e-readers and smart phones to communicate and interact with the world. We are using our digital devices to purchase things and participate in life around the clock more frequently. According to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, U.S. online sales for the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled $61.8 billion, an increase of 38.7 percent from the third quarter of 2011.

So why aren’t more patients already paying their medical bills online? While many providers have long offered online payment alternatives, patients may have the perception that it’s still a paper-based business. So what can we do to get patients pointing and clicking their balances down to zero? Here are five ideas to jumpstart your program.

1. Tell them online payment is an option
Seems obvious doesn’t it? But don’t presume patients know about your online payment solution. Tell them every chance you get such as in person, on printed materials, on your website home page and on signage within your facility. You should also add links in your email signatures to your online payment portal, post information within your social media platforms and include references within the recorded messages patients hear when placed on hold.

2. Make it easy to sign up and participate
Integrate online payment account sign up within your registration process. Train patient access counselors to walk patients through the sign up process during registration so that online payment is already an option for them even before they receive care.

3. Give patients compelling reasons to make the shift
Offer meaningful monetary incentives for patients who opt to pay online. Whether you offer a percentage discount, more flexible terms or arrange some other reward, assign a dollar value to give patients more reasons to pay online.

4. Highlight and integrate other online services available
Also consider integrating other online administrative services into your website to provide even more reasons for patients to turn to your online portal as a resource. See your website as an interactive tool that acts as an extension of your staff. Patients are motivated by simple solutions that save both time and money so make the most of your online portal’s ability to do both.

5. Take a “Screen and Be Seen” approach
Patients use a variety of devices, so make sure your payment interface (and your entire website for that matter) is functional and user-friendly for the most popular gadgets. You may even want to consider using a mobile app to handle digital payments depending on your patient population and the volume of accounts.

Looking for an online patient billing and payment solution that can help your organization automate the collection of patient receivables? Take a closer look at Emdeon Patient Pay Online or call us at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) for more information.

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Why Outsourcing Revenue Cycle Experts Is In: Download an educational HFMA report “An Outside Approach to Revenue Cycle Improvement”

In this report, hospital executives discuss strategic use of outsourcing in the revenue cycle, citing examples in navigating disability assistance enrollment, pursuing payer underpayments, managing Medicaid eligibility processes, and bridging gaps in medical necessity coding and documentation.

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Prompting Patients to Make Prompt Payments

Sometimes the most daunting denials don’t come from third-party payers. They come from patients in states of denial about the urgency of their own payment responsibilities. Because today’s patients bear bigger roles in direct compensation of their care, those “states of denial” that lead to slow or no pay have significant impact on cash flow for healthcare providers.

To encourage self-payers to ante up more promptly, here are some practical prompts you can use to accelerate cash flow for your organization.

1. Automate discounts for early payments
Incentivize the process for patients by building in rewards for early payments. Those rewards may come in the form of discounts, negotiable rates or more accommodating terms.

To make it easier for providers, our online patient billing and payment and Point-of-Service (POS) solutions can be customized to automatically calculate and present a discounted patient balance using predetermined business rules. Providers can establish both the balance discount percentage and the variables used to determine discount eligibility. For example, a provider can offer a 2% balance discount for payments made in full within 30 days from the date of service. In this scenario, for a $100 balance, the patient would only pay $98.00 and $2.00 would be credited to their account.

2. Clarify and clearly convey penalties for slow or missing payments
Just as rewards for prompt payment should be measurable and meaningful, penalties for slow or no payment should be compelling and clearly stated. Most providers have a tiered approach for billing aging accounts and patients must be informed accordingly.

3. Make online payment set up a part of registration
Integrate the creation of the patient’s online payment account into the registration process. By having patient access counselors prompt the completion of online account set up during registration, providers remove a major barrier to use and even further simplify the scenario for patients.

4. Convey the benefits of prompt payment in relevant ways
Constantly convey the benefits of prompt payment throughout the patient experience in a variety of formats. From registration through discharge, educate and remind patients of the measurable gains that await them when they pay promptly.

There’s no denying that providers must connect with patients early and often to encourage prompt payments. Emdeon Patient Pay Online, Emdeon eCashiering and our other payment collection solutions can help you collect more, faster. Call us at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) for more information.

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Patient Statement Design: Think Outside the Box by Coloring Within the Lines

Patient statement design is no longer a black and white issue. Thanks to digital technology, healthcare providers can print on demand and in full color. This means that statements can become true communication pieces with vibrant, colorful designs to enhance and clarify key messages.

In the realm of patient financial communications, statements are very important. Unfortunately without the correct design and strategic use of color, patient statements can come across as cold and impersonal. However, by incorporating color into statements, providers are able to insert a more positive, helpful tone within patient statements for better results.

Of course, color is essential in creating statements that are true to an organization’s brand since this adds life to the organization’s logo and helps the recipient quickly identify the sender. Nonetheless, the art of using color effectively goes beyond basic principles of branding. Color can be added strategically throughout statements as devices to get attention, prioritize content and denote urgency.

Consider the power color holds for these three areas of your patient statements.

Amount Due
Call out the total that is owed with color. This number can often blend in with other information. Punctuate the amount due visually to make it abundantly clear to recipients.

Automated Self-Service Contact Information
Drive more patients to use online resources that don’t overextend your staffing needs by highlighting the payment portal web address and the telephone number to your automated pay-by-phone service with color. Make sure the use of color strongly differentiates this key information for quick reference.

Date Due
Leave no question about when payment is expected. By applying color to the area denoting due date, providers guide patients to be aware of essential information.

To apply color to these key areas, think inside the lines. Boxes that surrounded key information may be filled with color to make the entire area more prominent. Likewise, the information itself may be printed in a different color, further enhancing it in context of the entire statement.

Make color choices based on importance and urgency of information. For example, the use of red can be especially effective when reserved for past due alerts on aging account statements. Yellow is known for drawing the eye, as are reverse colors (dark background color with a lighter text). The key is to use color strategically so that recipients are compelled to see the essential information, even at a quick glance.

The ultimate goal in patient statement design is to colorfully inspire more prompt payments and accelerate the collections process. If you would like to discuss how Emdeon ExpressBill Services can improve your statement design, printing and mailing, please call 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) for more information.

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Recurring Payment Plans Pay Off...Again and Again: Discover the Benefits of Monthly Payment Options for Patients and Providers

Recurring payment plans are a staple of consumerism. We are familiar and generally comfortable with paying monthly installments for everything from home mortgages, and gym memberships to furniture purchases and Netflix subscriptions. Ultimately, the use of recurring monthly payments is mutually beneficial to consumers and sellers; everyone knows what to expect and can budget accordingly.

Considering the significant transition to consumerism within the healthcare industry, it only makes sense that hospital bills would be added to the list of things patients pay off over the course of months in regular installments. The mindset of patients has long been ready for this option to become standard. Thanks to solutions like Emdeon eCashiering and Emdeon Patient Pay Online, providers now have the customized technology to easily and seamlessly set up and accept recurring payments. And everyone stands to gain as a result.

The benefits for providers and patients are clear.
Know what’s coming in each month.
The revenue cycle is much easier to manage when you can accurately anticipate the money that will be received from month to month. Setting patients up for regular, automated payments helps to ensure cash flow and improves the health of your organization.

Reduce your costs to collect
It’s extremely expensive to chase down payments. For every attempt to collect, you lose precious time and money. The longer the chase, the less likely you are to receive payment in full. In contrast, the set up and management of recurring payments takes minimal staff time and resources when properly automated and lead to more complete payments over time. This spares providers the depletion of staff time and resources and loss of revenue, ultimately enhancing profitability.

Improve the patient experience
Proactively offering automated, predetermined monthly payment options is very patient-centric. Imagine the positive difference you can give patients by providing portioned monthly costs rather than overwhelming them with lump sum totals. Likewise, automated monthly payments alleviate patients’ worries about making payment deadlines. For some, this less burdensome payment approach may be as important an issue as the care they received at your facility.

Recurring payments are extremely welcome and necessary in a variety of scenarios. Patients who bear financial responsibility for a large portion of their medical bills or whose bills reach a larger sum must have alternatives, since “payment in full” will not be possible.

Getting started with automated payments is simple. By leveraging Emdeon eCashiering and Emdeon Patient Pay Online, your staff and quickly and easily schedule recurring payments (when patients agree to this, of course) to reduce your risk of bad debt. Call us at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) for more information.

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