The COVID-19 global health crisis redefined many aspects of medical practice management, accelerating the adoption of a variety of important innovations and process improvement initiatives to optimize patient encounters and consumer satisfaction.
Many practice leaders plan to implement new operational advancements in the coming year in response to industry growth and emerging patient needs that were exacerbated by the pandemic, one of these advancements being contactless payments.
In fact, in a recent survey of medical practice managers and health system administrators conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), 37% of respondents indicated that they planned to implement contactless payment systems in 2021 and throughout the coming year.
Contactless payments, which include any payment method that doesn’t require the patient to hand over a card or cash or to touch a keypad, were the most frequently cited implementations planned by practice leaders who responded to the survey, above telehealth (12%) and payment plans (4%).
According to Payments Journal, the key to the surge and success of contactless payments is largely due to the simple fact that the payment method “allows cardholders to keep their distance from potentially germ-infested point-of-sale devices.” They also reported that 70% of Visa card transactions occur at a merchant that accepts contactless payments.
Many healthcare leaders often mistakenly assume that the payment experience doesn’t affect patients’ decisions about where they receive medical care. However, more than half of patients (56%) surveyed indicated that a patient’s financial experience does impact their healthcare choices and that they would “consider switching healthcare providers” for a better payment experience.
Additionally, as the nation’s population ages, more patients within the digital native generations (such as Generation Z and millennials) are becoming more frequent health care consumers who expect the most advanced technology from their medical provider throughout all steps of the patient encounter. This includes paperless, contactless, and mobile-friendly payment platforms.
The healthcare industry is poised to follow suit behind other industries that have already embraced contactless payments, such as public transit, retail, delivery services, and restaurants.
Types of Contactless Payments in Healthcare
- Contactless payment cards
- Mobile contactless payments
- Payment by code
There are several different features of contactless payment services, depending upon the stage of the patient encounter and the location of the patient (on-site vs. remote/online):
- Tap to pay – allows onsite patients to check out without touching a keypad or stylus.
- Text to pay – patients pay via a link texted directly to a phone (works onsite or remotely).
- Electronic receipts (eReceipts) – digital receipts sent to patients via email or text.
- Online bill pay – enables payment via website or patient portal.
- Automated payment plans – automatically generate a patient payment plan and allow patients to opt-in electronically for balances over a pre-determined amount. Notices are emailed and/or texted automatically when payments are due or past due, prompting patients to pay online or electronically.
According to Healthcare IT Today, contactless payments benefit practices and patients in a variety of significant ways:
- Optimizes consumer control: Contactless payments give consumers more control over and access to the payment process (while also alleviating some of the administrative burdens from practice staff).
- Eliminates security risks and contamination risks: Sharing financial information over the phone leaves room for error and feels less than secure. Additionally, handling cash and cards adds risks for contamination and additional spread of illnesses, which is vitally important to the 76% of patients who are concerned about device cleanliness.
- Works in tandem with telehealth technology: 65% of patients utilized telehealth in 2020, and therefore they expect equally convenient payment methods.
Additionally, cash, cards, and manual payments are inefficient for practices and inconvenient for most patients, especially younger patients in metropolitan areas.
Among healthcare consumers, the most desired contactless payment methods are:
- Patient portal (37%)
- Mobile app (32%)
- Contactless mobile wallets (25%)
Security, data protection, and fraud prevention are primary concerns when implementing contactless payments within the healthcare industry particularly, due to the sensitive nature of medical transactions and the data involved. Therefore, it’s important to conduct proper due diligence when exploring contactless payment services.
Ideally, medical practices may ultimately prefer to implement a payment service that is specifically designed for use in healthcare and utilizes proven HIPAA-compliant security technology to meet all regulatory requirements. For example, Klara recently announced an interface with modmed® Pay that streamlines the payment process by connecting patients, providers, and financial institutions. The interface allows modmed® Pay customers to easily collect patient credit card information and process credit card payments for outstanding balances digitally.
By implementing a healthcare-specific payment service, medical practices can feel confident that they are providing a HIPAA-compliant solution for their patients. In addition, digital payments enable practices to reduce no-shows with automated card collection, increase revenue by reducing outstanding balances, and save staff time by minimizing time spent on manual payments.
Future of Contactless Payments
While the pandemic exacerbated the need and increased patient demand for contactless payments, industry experts and analysts agree that this convenient and safe payment method is here to stay in the healthcare industry.
Once patients experience the ease and efficiency of paying from a mobile device or online, they don’t want to go back to the hassle of keeping up with cash, checks, or cards. By providing contactless payments, providers are able to deliver a quality patient experience while maximizing payment collections.
Contactless care has become the new normal for post-pandemic healthcare consumerism, as patients have grown to expect and to rely upon high-tech, fully contactless patient encounters.
Stay tuned for more updates from Klara as we are already working on the next set of payments features to bring better patient experiences to you and your practice! Or if you’re a Modernizing Medicine customer using EMA®, modmed® Practice Management and modmed® Pay, contact your Klara Account Manager or sign up for Klara today to activate modmed® Pay.