In just the last year, there has been a dramatic increase in the adoption of payment technologies, including web portals and interactive voice response (IVR) technology, by healthcare providers and healthcare collection agencies, according to a new survey.
In its second annual Healthcare Operations and Technology Survey report, BillingTree, a payment technology firm, found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that patient inability to pay was cited as the biggest revenue cycle and collection challenge facing providers.
The study, based on a survey of U.S. healthcare companies, including single and multi-location providers and healthcare collection agencies, provides a snapshot of the current state of the healthcare industry in terms of payment channels, payment technologies, challenges, and opportunities for healthcare providers.
When it came to technology adoption and the range of automated payment options for their clients, the survey responses produced some surprises. According to the survey, there has been a dramatic increase in the adoption of payment technologies, including web portals and Interactive voice response (IVR) technology. The number of providers offering an IVR payment option for patients rose from 7 percent to 50 percent last year. Additionally, now three-fourths of practices are accepting patient responsibility payments via web portals, which increased from 67 percent to 75 percent.
A growing number of organizations today rely on automation and are catching up to consumer adoption of electronic payments. While most respondents (87.5 percent) indicated that they accepted onsite and mail payments, an equal number (75 percent) indicated they accepted payments over the phone via live agent and web portal payments.
The survey results indicated that the biggest challenges facing providers were a patient’s inability to pay, collecting payments after leaving the facility, a lack of payment channels, compliance challenges, and issues related to insurance billing.
Factors impacting a healthcare provider’s choice of payment provider included financial reporting and HIPAA compliance as the top two priorities. Compliance and integration were consistent with the previous survey results, the premium placed on reporting reflected a new trend.
When asked about future plans to adopt new payment technology, this year’s respondents suggested that the increased pace of technology adoption would continue. In contrast to 2016, fewer respondents in 2017 indicated that they planned to add staff to support payment collections.
Over the next 12 months, almost two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) plan to implement a patient payment portal—an increase of over 40 percent compared to the previous year’s findings. What’s more, 25 percent plan to implement an IVR system to accept payments. The survey results indicate that there is a shift in mindset from relying on manual processes and staff increases to adopting payment automation and technology-enhanced services to streamline payment collections while continuing to cut costs and increase profits
“Having collected healthcare industry data for two consecutive years, we can see significant trends starting to emerge. One key development is the priority placed on technology adoption,” Dave Yohe, BillingTree’s VP of marketing, said in a statement. “SMS and mobile payment offerings, like statements using QR Codes for fast mobile access to payment forms, are two emerging technologies also trending in the healthcare industry.”