FOUR WAYS ONLINE BILL PAY AND E-BILL SERVICES CAN BENEFIT YOUR PRACTICE
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For decades now, we’ve been hearing about the gradual shift to a paperless society. While paper seems to be fading from our culture more slowly than anticipated, there do seem to be more and more reasons to go digital each day—especially in healthcare, where the transition to electronic medical records seems inevitable.
The trends are difficult to ignore. According to eMarketer, by the end of 2012, 89 million people—or 75 percent of all U.S. households—will be online. And a 2010 study by ComScore found 64 percent of survey respondents reported using online bill pay, up 19 percentage points from 45 percent the previous year. (MarketingCharts.com)
Your billing system doesn’t need to fall behind. You know you should offer your patients the options of receiving statements electronically and paying their bills online, but perhaps the reasons to do so haven’t seemed to outweigh the perceived logistical nightmare that might accompany such a transition.
POS Online Bill Pay and e-Bills bring you a fast and painless way to transition to digital statements and payment processing. This paper will examine four ways online bill pay and e-bills can benefit both your patients and your practice.
Benefit 1: Reinforce Your Brand
Everything your practice produces and shares reflects your brand, and your statements are no different. Your practice’s logo, colors and overall look and feel connect with your patients on an emotional level.
POS Online Bill Pay and e-Bills allow your patients to choose paper or e-bills—and either way, they’ll see your brand. Both types of statements will direct patients to a customized, branded online payment portal, which they can choose to visit to make a payment. Unlike some online bill pay and e-bill solutions, the POS portal presents a consistent and integrated brand, because it looks exactly like your paper statement.
In addition to offering your patients an option regarding payment methods—a practice whose value we’ll explore further in a later section—directing patients to a branded portal also delivers the benefit of added impressions. In other words, it’s just one more place your patients will be exposed to your brand.
Clutter is a huge issue in marketing today. A recent Yankelovich study estimated that people see up to 5,000 marketing messages a day. This makes standing out from the pack even more challenging. It’s also estimated that adults must hear or see a message at least seven times before it settles into long-term memory.
For brands to stick, you need to present them again and again. Frequency is the key to branding success, and your customized online payment portal is one more touch point. It represents a new branding opportunity.
Benefit 2: Improve Relationships with Your Patients
Your patients might not all prefer e-bills. They might not all prefer to pay their bills online. But they likely prefer having the choice. Fiserv Inc.’s 2011 Billing Household Survey showed that consumers use multiple payment channels regularly, with nearly one in five households changing the way they pay bills each month.
The survey also showed the number of consumers interested in receiving e-bills on a biller’s site is 22 percent, which is up from 17 percent in 2010.
When patients get to choose which payment method best suits their available funds, payment timing and convenience needs, they feel better about the bills they’re paying. Your online bill pay portal is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so your patients can pay you whenever they want.
That kind of convenience goes a long way toward making your patients feel good about their interactions with your practice. When patients get to choose how they receive statements, how they pay and when they pay, they feel better about doing so.
Your patients also might feel better about working with a practice that does its part to conserve resources. The “green” implications of online bill pay and e-bills send a positive message to those patients who value environmentalism.
And when it comes to effective communications with your patients, statements afford the opportunity to make or break your practice’s impression. As one of the most frequent ways in which you interact with your patients, ensuring your statements are patient friendly is a crucial part of building your relationships. This means making sure statements are clear, concise, easy to read, easy to understand and delivered in the way your patients prefer.
The NACHA survey found that paperless billing and bill payment actually make people happier— and reduces dissatisfaction with the biller by half. Theories about why include the clutter of paper bills, as well as the tendency to pay online bills as they come in as opposed to saving them up and paying a lot of bills at once. When people pay one bill at a time, they feel less financial strain.
Benefit 3: Get Paid Faster and Save Money
The cost savings on paper, printing, postage and labor can be reason enough to switch to online bill pay and e-bills. But doing so can also shorten your A/R cycle.
Your payments can only arrive as fast as your delivery methods—so when you email a statement to a patient, you can gain valuable days that formerly were lost in transit. The same works conversely: When patients pay you online, the money is delivered to you faster. With an online bill pay site that never closes, you can receive payments after hours, on weekends and even on holidays.
You also save money on labor when you accept payments online. The Fiserv survey found that 67 percent of consumers who paid bills online said they avoided a call to the biller as a result of visiting their website. With online bill pay, your staff doesn’t have to spend as much time taking credit card payments over the phone, a significant drain of personnel resources.
Online payment options are preferred for expedited payments as well. According to Fiserv, 37 percent of consumers go directly to a biller’s website when they need to make a last-minute payment.
Paper checks have declined from 61 percent of all payments in 2000 to 26 percent in 2010, while online bill payments have grown from 12 percent to 45 percent of all payments.
Benefit 4: Add No Extra Work
If you currently use POS-I-BILL® Statement Processing from POS, transitioning to the online system is fast and easy. If not, adding POS-I-BILL and then POS Online Bill Pay and e-Bills is a seamless process that your POS representative can help you quickly implement.
Once setup is completed, generating statements with POS Online Bill Pay and e-Bills is just as easy as it’s always been with POS-I-BILL. Simply upload your files the same way you would for paper statements and let POS take care of the rest. You generate statements exactly as you do today, and add no additional work to your current process.
Your online bill pay payment portal will be hosted on POS’ secure server. It can either stand alone or link to your practice’s current website. Your POS representative will provide all the support and training your staff needs for a smooth and painless transition.
As the world transitions and more of your patients manage their finances online, POS makes it easy to save time and money, all while reinforcing your relationships with your patients. See what POS Online Bill Pay and e-Bills can do for your practice today.