According to a study published earlier this year in JAMA, administrative costs account for 15% to 25% of total US health expenditures, the majority of which pertain to billing. It’s not news to clinicians that the medical billing process is detailed and requires a great deal of time. Everything from patient registration to proper coding plays a role, but it does not end there. Receiving payment is one of the most time-consuming elements, as most practices must track payments from both patients and insurance companies.
Given the rise in patient healthcare costs over the last few years, the situation is not getting any better. Patients pay 30% of the typical healthcare bill, and annual deductibles exceeding $5,000 effect 23% of families. According to the AMA, rising deductibles and coinsurance amounts have led to uncollected patient payments and, in turn, medical practice debt. Lowering the number of outstanding balances and backend collection costs will lead to increased revenue, as well as reduced administrative burdens.
Automation technology is an integral component to remedying payment collection issues. A survey published by U.S. Bank discussed the importance of automation technology for payments, in particular due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, only 28% of survey respondents reported paying bills online, demonstrating that the majority of people still use outdated, inefficient payment methods like phone or mail, despite 37% of respondents saying they are interested in paying via a portal and 32% interested in paying via a mobile app. What’s more, nearly one-half of the respondents stated a preference for practices allowing contactless payment via debit or credit card.
According to d’Artagnan Osborne general manager of payment solutions at health IT provider Tebra, when implementing new automation technology for billing and payment, physicians must consider a solution that adapts to the practice and can seamlessly function with any existing technologies employed by the practice, thereby ensuring smooth workflow without adding to administrative burdens.
Osborne suggests that data-based software automation to monitor all parts of the billing process can alleviate a practice’s administrative burdens, allowing greater focus on other key tasks. Such a strategy can also allow patients to view bills on a mobile screen and to make instant payments. Osborne has observed that with this technology, both staff members and patients use their time more efficiently and express greater satisfaction with their experiences.