Facilitating Patient Payment Plans Through Technology

Close up of patient entering credit card information for patient payment plan.
Offering patient payment plans is a great way for providers to improve the patient experience while ensuring consistent revenue for the practice.

Over two thirds of Americans want easier, more convenient, and flexible ways to pay for medical bills. Offering payment plans to patients is a great way for providers to get started. In order to accomplish this, providers need to implement highly efficient systems that make it easy for staff to set-up and manage on the front-end while still allowing for flexibility and ease of use for patients.

Getting this right can improve the quality of care that patients receive and ensures consistent revenue for the practice. We have outlined several best practices organizations should follow to ensure the success of a payment plan process.

Automate payments

A man sets up a patient payment plan using a mobile phone.
A man sets up a patient payment plan using a mobile phone.

Many healthcare organizations manually support their payment plans by calling patients to collect payment according to a specific calendar. While this doesn’t burden patients, it adds a lot of unnecessary administrative work for office staff. And it does not ensure timely payment for the organization. Securely collecting and pre-authorizing payment information when setting up the plan allows providers to automatically collect payment each time it is due. This guarantees on time collections.

Set a boundary

A doctor and patient discuss a patient payment plan.
Charging a minimum monthly payment, or requiring that the bill be paid in full within a certain time frame, is a great place to start when setting boundaries for your organization.

Giving patients flexibility and choice in how much they pay towards their bill each month is a fantastic patient-centric strategy. However, it is important to set parameters and stick to them. Charging a minimum monthly payment, or requiring that the bill be paid in full within a certain time frame is a great place to start when setting boundaries for your organization.

Collect the first payment upfront

A woman on a bus makes a contactless upfront payment.
Contactless upfront payments are becoming the new normal, even with patient payment plans.

Payment plans are designed to allow for flexibility when patients are unable to pay in full all at once. This should not become a way for patients to avoid paying entirely. Collecting a portion of the bill upfront is an essential step in setting up a monthly payment plan.

Customize payment plans based on need

Healthcare organizations typically utilize three types of payment plans with their patients. Depending on a patients unique financial situation, one of these plans may be more attractive than another. It’s important to communicate openly with patients and offer them several options to fit their needs.

  • Installment: Use “installment” plans to collect payments against an outstanding balance, and deactivate the plan automatically when the total balance is paid.
  • Recurring: Use “recurring” plans to collect payments at a regular, ongoing interval for a subscription service.
  • Save on File: Use “save on file” plans to save a patient’s payment card on file to collect the remaining amount owed when the claim is adjudicated.  A save on file plan is useful when the patient’s payment responsibility is unknown during the patient visit, if the patient has a high deductible, for example.

Patient-centric payment technology allows healthcare organizations to set up payment plans specific to each patient’s financial reality and medical needs. Technology also allows patients to roll up future medical costs and add those of family members. Paying a single monthly payment is much easier than trying to manage multiple bills for multiple services for multiple organizations.

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