Healthcare News & Insights

How merchant services software can improve the efficiency of healthcare payment systems

Considering national healthcare spending is projected to increase by 5.5% per year from 2017 to 2026, security and efficiency are more important than ever for today’s hospitals. Existing healthcare payment processing solutions are often outdated, cumbersome and need to be revamped to reduce costs and provide better patient experiences.

Some of the main areas that need to be addressed are using a modern payment system to ensure payment card industry (PCI) and HIPAA compliance, providing creative payment plans, and centralizing reporting information and analytics. In this guest post, Drew Sementa, CEO of a merchant solutions and payment processing company, will show how each of these can be improved with merchant services software.

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Modern merchant software is a PCI and HIPAA compliance double-edged sword. PCI and HIPAA have many overlapping components concerning network security and securing personally identifiable information. Using a system that’s PCI compliant and proactive in helping attain and retain compliance can contribute to HIPAA compliance as well. In fact, hacking and IT incidents accounted for more than 75% of HIPAA-related breaches in February 2019 with those incidents resulting in the exposure of 96.25% of the records that were breached. Having updated merchant software that helps you stay compliant is key to preventing these kinds of data breaches.

Vet payment system

Payment providers can be considered a covered business entity, so if you’re using an antiquated system that doesn’t secure patients’ personal data, then you could unknowingly be violating HIPAA. And, if you’re using outdated medical software to store full card numbers, you could unknowingly be violating PCI. Steps to avoid this need to be taken.

In a survey by NueMD, 60% of respondents were unaware of the upcoming HIPAA compliance audits. If any part of a system is breached, the facility could be liable for PCI and/or HIPAA fines.

And it’s not just fines that could hit your hospital hard. Expect up to 65% of your customers to consider switching providers after a major HIPAA data breach.

EMV secures transactions, reduces liability

EMV is nothing new to the global payment processing world, but the U.S. healthcare system has been slow to adopt this global standard. Supporting EMV has numerous benefits – patient data is more secure, risk of fines or lawsuits is diminished and hospitals feel more modern.

By leveraging EMV technology, the U.S. healthcare industry can help to combat the $68 billion-a-year fraud problem while improving patient identity authentication and patient experience. Patient financial data is also protected with EMV as it uses end-to-end encryption and tokenization to protect it through the entire system.

Supporting EMV is easier than ever with custom point of sale (POS) integrations, which allow you to easily track payment transactions and maximize efficiency.

Value of modern payment plan solutions

Making payments more manageable for patients by offering the option to pay in monthly installments and/or under a plan is a great place for hospitals to start improving their processes. Such plans result in fewer patients forgoing care they need because their payment plan is now more flexible, and it increases payments while reducing collection efforts across the board.

Modern payment systems can take a set amount and automatically split it up over a number of months – while tracking all of the billing to the specific service instead of splitting it into separate transactions.

Other possible solutions include auto-drafting with automated clearing house (ACH), online billing and support, and mobile app payments. Online and mobile app payments not only improve patient experience by making it easier and more convenient for them to pay for their care, but they also minimize the lag that may be experienced if they must complete payments in-person or on the phone during work hours.

Centralizing reporting info & analytics

Health care’s progression toward more sophisticated electronic recordkeeping and digital storage of reporting info and analytics still doesn’t make hospitals immune to errors with claims.

Centralizing reporting information and analytics helps reduce healthcare reconciliation labor and errors by separating transactions out by card type and lowering the number of separate batches an accounting team has to deal with. Some systems don’t identify what card types are used, and this makes finding mismatched transactions between statements during reconciliation a lengthy process. Systems should be able to know this type of information.

And by operating through a secure customer vault, providers don’t have to enter as many transactions for splitting up larger payments and auto drafts. This reduces the labor and possible errors that come with processing additional transactions (e.g. overcharging, undercharging or creating separate service transactions for one service that was split into separate payments).

Patient engagement

As instant gratification and convenience become more essential than ever for consumers (particularly younger ones), health systems and the payment processing solutions they use will need to catch up to the modern standards seen elsewhere.

Hospitals can promote higher levels of patient engagement by integrating payment options they experience in other areas of their lives, such as online and in-person shopping. By providing payment kiosks in hospitals and accessible online statements that allow patients to pay at the click of a button, hospitals can offer the same ease in processes as most retailers. Not only will this make life easier for patients, making payment processing straightforward, it’ll allow facilities to get paid faster and more often.

Current payment systems used by hospitals across the country are by no means inherently flawed, but they can certainly be improved. By adopting modern merchant services software and capabilities like EMV, creative payment plan solutions and centralized information, payment systems can be reworked – increasing efficiency and organization while providing a better and more secure experience for patients.

Drew Sementa is CEO of Tidal Commerce, a merchant solutions and payment processing company that focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses grow.

 

 

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