Online payments have become the norm for many industries, including the healthcare industry. Many providers, from solo-doctor practices to large health systems, are leveraging online payments to offer their patients a new way to pay their healthcare bills. Yet, simply offering the option to pay online may not be enough to actually connect with patients.
As consumers, patients have high expectations of the online payment process that have been set by other industries. Below are the ways the retail industry has successfully implemented online payments and how to apply these strategies to reach patients through a convenient payment experience.
In many retail stores, shoppers are encouraged to shop online through messages on customer receipts and signs highlighting the store’s website in high-traffic areas, such as dressing rooms and registers.
Including the URL to pay bills online on patient statements and signs posted in waiting rooms and registration/checkout areas increases patient awareness of a provider’s online payment option. Additionally, front and back office staff should remind all patients that they can pay online.
On most retail websites, consumers have the option to set up an account and save their payment information, set up preferences and view previous purchase information if they are returning customers. Consumers also have the option to “pay as a guest” without creating another username and password to manage. Presenting these options gives consumers more control over their shopping experience and makes them more likely to return to the website.
Patients expect the same options when paying healthcare bills online. For patients with frequent visits or high deductibles, enable them to create an account, opt for paperless eStatements, set up automated payment plans and save payment information for easier future payments. For patients who want to make a one-time payment without creating a username and password, enable them to pay once online. Having these options caters to the different needs and preferences of patients, giving them a positive online payment experience.
A major challenge facing the retail industry is ‘abandonment’ of online shopping carts, frequently caused by confusion during the payment process. The successful retailers avoid this issue by simplifying the online payment process with clear payment instructions and explanations of each fee.
To avoid patient confusion when paying online, the website should clearly state what the patient owes, all available payment options and the steps to complete the payment transactions. It is also helpful to prominently display the provider’s contact information in case the patient has questions during the process. If patients know that they can easily get assistance while paying online, they will have more confidence to complete the process on their own.
Bill Marvin is the President, CEO and Co-Founder of InstaMed, the leading Healthcare Payments Network. InstaMed is the only single, integrated network connecting providers, payers and patients for the entire healthcare payments process, and has processed over $80 billion in healthcare payments to date.