​​The Best Way for Healthcare Facilities to Process Payments

With healthcare costs on the rise, more patients have to bear the burden of paying out-of-pocket expenses for their medical care. As a result, doctors and other healthcare providers have to be skilled at taking care of their patients and finances.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, out-of-pocket spending for healthcare grew to $406.5 billion in 2019, comprising 11% of total healthcare expenditures.

With this amount of money changing hands, healthcare facilities need to process payments when medical care is provided. One of the main reasons for this conclusion is that your chance of collecting payment drops by a whopping 62% once a patient leaves your office.

So, what’s the best way to collect payments to ensure that you maintain a healthy cash flow? This article will discuss the importance of having a healthcare payment processing software system and tips to ensure a smooth collection process.

Healthcare Payment Processing Systems

Though it sounds like a mouthful, a healthcare payment processing system is simply a third-party company that gives your office the ability to accept credit and debit card payments from patients.

These systems tend to offer a complete set of features that allow you to either swipe or insert a credit card or process payment by manually entering the patient’s payment information into your computer system or another terminal.

Accepting credit and debit cards can be a considerable advantage over checks because you won’t have to risk having a check getting returned to you for insufficient funds. Instead, you are virtually guaranteed payment for your services in exchange for paying a nominal transaction fee.

A receptionist accepts payment from a patient at a healthcare facility.

Choosing a Payment Processor

There are countless healthcare payment processing systems to choose from, so as you’re evaluating your options, we suggest considering the following:

1. Favorable and transparent contract terms: Make sure you understand how much you’ll be paying in fees, whether you have to pay set-up or equipment fees, and if the processor offers additional services. ISOs tend to be the most flexible and customer-friendly, especially for healthcare offices.

2. Integrations: You and your staff would probably prefer to serve patients than deal with paperwork. Look for a processor that can integrate with your existing systems for seamless payment processing.  

3. Digital payments: Sending invoices and receiving payments via text can be very convenient for your patients and a time-saving measure for your office.

4. Reporting and clear statements: Being able to see your collections and transaction fees at a glance can give you detailed insights into your business and growth trends.

5. List of accepted credit cards: While most processors give you the ability to accept Visa and Mastercard, not all will take Discover, Amex, Diner’s Club, etc. Also, given the number of people using Apple and Google Pay, you may want to ensure that your processor allows patients to use those payment methods.

6. Paperless options: You can cut down on paper expenses (and save some trees) by having receipts and statements emailed or texted to patients. This digital record can also be helpful if a patient discards or misplaces a paper receipt.

7. Security: Healthcare offices need to ensure HIPAA compliance at all times. Make sure your system protects the patient’s identity and other sensitive information.

Tips for Making Payment Collection Easy and Seamless

It can be awkward to stick out your palm and demand payment from a patient. The good news is that you never have to do that if you have procedures in place that make collecting payments easy and automatic.

Every healthcare office is different, so you may want to mix and match these tips to find a process that works for you.

–   Give patients the option to pay for services before their appointment. If you know in advance what treatments will be provided and their costs, you can send a patient the bill and give them the option to pay before they even step foot in your office.

–   Make front desk payments friendly. A terminal at your front desk gives your patients the option to swipe their cards without making small talk or feeling awkward.

You can come up with prompts or scripts that guide patients directly to your payment terminal. You could even get creative and set up a payment terminal to include a post-treatment survey to get feedback for your office.

–   Collect payments in the exam room. This option is ideal when a patient wants privacy and doesn’t necessarily want people in the waiting room to hear about procedures that were done and their associated costs. Another advantage of collecting payments in the exam room is that it prevents patients from forgetting to pay as they walk out the door.

–   Automate collections outside the office. You may decide that a patient doesn’t need to pay you at the time of service. This is especially true if you set up a payment plan for a high-ticket procedure like surgery or braces.

In that case, you can set up a payment plan for convenient financing and automatically bill or deduct payments as they become due. If a credit card gets declined, you can even have automated messages or automated re-attempts to collect pay that limits labor-intensive follow-up.

The Bottom Line

Being able to process payments is a function that most, if not all, healthcare facilities need to have. This is particularly true if you also sell products on-site, such as supplements or health equipment.

At Accredited Interchange, we offer a complimentary analysis to review your current needs. We can answer any questions and determine whether our services are an appropriate fit for your healthcare facility.