Paper billings, general delivery still control healthcare payments | PaymentsSource

Bank and equity capital financial investments in healthcare innovation are increasing, however like a persistent disorder, billing and payments stay slowed down in paper. That produces a customer experience that’s greatly various from what they have actually ended up being familiar with in an age of mobile wallets and e-commerce.

“Consumers are accustomed to paying their household bills through the channels and methods they prefer,” stated Deirdre Ruttle, chief marketing officer at InstaMed and head of healthcare payments at JPMorgan Chase. “Health care still needs to catch up. Providers often offer consumers limited payment channels, which typically don’t include preferred digital options.”

Chase and InstaMed, a healthcare payments business in Philadelphia that Chase obtained in 2019, simply launched a report on patterns in healthcare deals that revealed a remaining space in automation. This shortage is typically credited to the intricacy of healthcare payments, which includes numerous celebrations for billing, insurance coverage claims, customer payments and deal processing. And the sluggish rate of innovation uptake continues regardless of billions of dollars in financial investments in wider healthcare innovation, and years of fintechs establishing items created to simplify healthcare payments.

For example, the Chase/InstaMed report, which tracked $460 billion in payments processed on InstaMed’s network in between 2018 and 2021, discovered 70% of customers get medical expenses through standard mail, however just 9% wish to pay that expense with a paper check.

“This wide gap really shows the heart of why consumers will end a payment when they cannot make a payment how they want,” Ruttle said.

Chase and InstaMed also found 25% of consumers ended a transaction for a medical bill because they couldn’t pay with a credit card, 70% of providers take more than 30 days to collect after a patient encounter, and 41% of third-party payers were challenged to collect patient premiums.

“When you think about mobile and online, it’s all about meeting the consumer at a time and place of their choosing,” Ruttle said. “Health care consumers want to pay and manage money digitally through multiple options that are convenient and simple to use, much like they do for other consumer payment experiences.”

Other research also suggests a gap in health care payments. While clinics and medical offices are increasingly adding payment portals, mobile apps and contactless payments, only 28% of patients use an online portal and more than half receive a bill in the mail, according to U.S. Bancorp. U.S. Bank also reports 37% of consumers want to pay online, 32% want to pay through a mobile app, and half want to use a contactless credit or debit card. Additionally, half of consumers said health care is the most difficult industry to make a payment. U.S. Bank, which surveyed about 1,100 adults in 49 states, did not return a request for comment by deadline.

The payment challenges come as funding floods into health care technology. Investments in digital health care startups, for example, reached $57 billion in 2021, up 79% from 2020, according to CB Insights, adding the funding was driven by digital therapeutics, or the use of software for diagnosis and treatment. Telehealth is also expanding, and now makes up about 5% of all medical claim lines, according to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker for February 2022.

These “medical care from home” services expanded during the pandemic and are digital and remote by nature. Along with the continued growth of general e-commerce, these pandemic-era digital health care options should create long-awaited momentum for automated payments and shorter processing times, according to Ruttle.

“There is a massive opportunity to connect with consumers throughout their health care payments journey,” Ruttle said. “This means engaging with consumers about their benefits and payment options from the time they schedule an appointment through paying their medical bills.”

Banks and fintechs have added payment technology to their health care services in an attempt to boost uptake of digital payments or to improve the general patient and provider experience.

U.S. Bank, for example, offers integrated payments, which allows systems for medical records, billing and payments to automatically share data. Bank of America recently acquired AxiaMed, a Santa Barbara, California-based health care technology company the bank is using to speed technology deployments at its client network of more than 2,000 hospitals and 17,000 health care providers. AxiaMed’s technology includes Payment Fusion, a product that uses an application programming interface to plug into electronic health care record systems, practice management and revenue cycle management systems at health care providers. Bank of America did not comment for this story.

Among technology providers, Waystar has added a peer-to-peer money transfer model and a text messaging option for consumers to view and pay medical bills on their smartphone after receiving a text alert.

By leveraging a cloud-based platform that deploys intelligent automation like artificial intelligence and machine learning, labor-intensive and error-prone manual processes are significantly reduced, according to Waystar.

“These advanced technologies empower teams with proactive and actionable insights, optimize workflows, increase their ability to do more with less, and ultimately help solve the industry-wide burden of staffing shortages,” said Matt Hawkins, CEO of Waystar in Louisville, Kentucky. “This allows providers to proactively determine insurance eligibility, provide estimates of costs, and secure authorizations.”

Another company, Episode Six in Austin, Texas, uses an innovation plug-in for banks and other business to present monetary services. Episode Six has broadened its organization design to consist of healthcare payments and other digital services for the medical market.

“Payment automation is dependent on tech stacks that are being modernized across health care. As new technology is deployed, automation will drive operational efficiencies and better experiences for payers and payees across the ecosystem,” stated John Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Episode Six. “While the opportunity is clear, this process is just beginning.”

Outside of deal automation, there’s an extra chance to enhance healthcare payment experiences by resolving unanticipated and releasing payment websites that describe terms related to healthcare, insurance coverage, funding and client duty as early as possible. Chase and InstaMed’s research study discovered 87% of customers were amazed by a medical expense in the previous year. Digital billing can be utilized to interact expenses and client duty in a clear way, Ruttle stated.

“Every interaction with consumers should include a discussion of their financial responsibility and ways to pay. When consumers are empowered with that information, the entire healthcare experience gets better,” she stated.


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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