Managing and collecting payments is becoming more difficult for healthcare providers as the healthcare industry continues to rapidly change. Now that the Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have health insurance, copays and deductibles are becoming a more significant part of providers’ cash flow. Another significant change is the shift to electronic payment systems.
With all of these changes occurring, healthcare providers are searching for new ways to make their medical claims and payment processes more efficient and timely.
Here are three key trends happening now among providers:
1. Prioritizing point-of-service (POS) collections
Because patients are now bringing in more cash flow to healthcare providers, providers are trying to incentivize their patients to pay as soon as possible. Ideally, providers want payment at the time of service. Providers are offering more flexible payment options, including debit and credit card readers. This allows patients to easily use health savings accounts or healthcare financing plans to pay upfront. Providers can also save patients’ card information and offer the option of automated or recurring payments.
2. Reducing the paper trail
Despite the rest of the world transitioning to electronic payments, many health insurance companies still rely heavily on snail mail to send checks and explanation of benefits forms to providers. These methods can make it difficult for providers to be paid promptly.
Electronic medical claims clearinghouses do exist, but they deal only with the claims and not the payments. Providers are now asking insurance companies to send them both the payment and the explanation of benefits forms electronically in files that are both secure and easily accessible. The AR-Exchange portal is one tool that offers this service. These electronic transfers allow providers to update their claim receivables more efficiently; in turn, accelerating the rate at which they receive payment.
3. More automation and innovation
There are many third-party portals that can link payers and providers for the purpose of transferring payments and forms. The problem with these portals is that they are often payer-specific, so providers have to create multiple accounts on different sites in order to be connected with all payers. Another problem is that some insurance companies will still send paper forms as back-ups, even if they are sending them electronically; this can be confusing and cumbersome for providers.
There are solutions that can fix these issues. Deluxe® eChecks are simply an electronic form of traditional checks designed to provide your company significant cost savings, improved processing times and reduced exposure to the risk of check fraud. Additionally, the Deluxe eCheck solution delivers the check and EOP or ANSI 835 to your providers at the same time, with no added cost. Ultimately, whomever you’re paying will end up with a physical, paper check. The difference is that they will receive a link via email allowing them to retrieve and print it or deposit it electronically into their checking account.
Once printed, the eCheck is a regular paper check, including routing number, account number, signature, amount, payee and check number.
Integrating technology will clearly make a huge difference when it comes to improving the payment collection process. Keeping up-to-date with the latest digital tools is essential if providers want to save time and money.