5 min read
Getting paid - the elephant in the medical practice
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any healthcare business, so why do so many businesses overlook their payment processes? How can frictionless payments improve the productivity of specialist practices and elevate the patient experience?
COVID has prompted medical practices to adopt more innovative patient services than ever before, including telehealth visits, remote check-in and even car park consultations. Each of these scenarios requires using technology in new ways and increases the challenge of collecting payments.
What’s needed is an optimised workflow to save time, improve accuracy and deliver success to the practice. How can technology partners and robust integrations deliver greater operational efficiency and improved workflows for your specialist clinic?
That question was the focus of the recent Talking HealthTech Winter Summit, co-hosted by Global Payments CEO, Masseh Haidary and Dan Tanner, Senior Product Manager & PM Practice Lead at Genie Solutions.
Genie and Global Payments (via local brand Ezidebit) joined forces in 2021 to deliver Patient Payments, a payment service that integrates directly into Genie’s web-based Practice Management System (PMS), Gentu.
It aims to remove a lot of the friction around taking payments from patients. Things like:
Removing admin inefficiencies through automation
Providing patients with modern payment experiences for medical services
Deeper integration into practice workflows such as banking reports, procedure management and invoicing
Genie chose to partner with Ezidebit because payments processes are so deeply embedded in core PMS workflows, meaning other payment providers and banks could only solve up to the boundary point of the workflow.
“Practices would always have a sub-optimal experience and have to bridge that gap unless we took on the solving the issues in a very integrated way,” said Dan.
“We also knew we weren’t payments specialists, and we weren’t looking to be. So, a partnership was the obvious option.”
When Genie was looking for a payments partner, Dan said they were after a business who would complement them. For Genie, a few things stood out:
Ezidebit isn’t a bank so can be more flexible and adaptable, resulting in less paperwork for practices
Local support - the fact that Ezidebit is based in Brisbane, like Genie, was important because they wanted a collaboration partner not just a payment provider
Ezidebit is highly secure to keep Genie’s practices and patients safe
Ezidebit is also a proven partner in other industries (salons, health and fitness, childcare)
And lastly, Ezidebit’s shared values around customer centricity
Masseh pointed out some of the reasons Global Payments (via Ezidebit) chose to work with Genie, including:
Genie’s 20+ years of experience in the specialist health technology market
Genie’s fluency in the medical industry and the challenges practices face
Genie’s powerful integrations and holistic solution
Masseh added, “Our motto at Ezidebit is ‘done in one’. We offer multiple payment options within market leading software products (like Genie). We make it easier to process payments so you can get on with the important job of running your business and caring for your patients.”
What are some of the problems in the industry around getting paid?
Dan pointed out, “There’s around three billion dollars of patient payments flowing through the ecosystem every year and we know those funds are not being handled efficiently and sometimes not securely.
“Huge amounts of time, effort, risk, and waste are centred around the process of getting paid.
“Firstly, payments are double handled between the PMS & terminal, increasing the risk of keying errors. Those keying errors have knock-on effects to the reconciliation process. It’s not uncommon to hear about staff spending 20 minutes at the end of the day in banking reports to figure out where numbers don’t line up.
“Next, practices often didn’t have access to online payment methods, requiring admin to chase patients via email and phone for pre-payments, which is a massive time-sink. This also means patients could only pay through a few numbers of payment channels, often when the practice was open and available.
“And finally, practices were providing payment methods to patients in insecure ways, which increased their risk of fraud. An integrated payment solution was one of the highest requested enhancements to the PMS at the time.”
Masseh agreed that Ezidebit hears from practices all the time, saying they want their payments to be safe and secure.
“Hacking is a global industry and it’s a big business,” he said. “Over 70% of cyber-attacks occur in businesses with fewer than 10 staff members. A cyber-attack can lead to huge fines, massive disruptions and even closure of the business.
“We work closely with practices to give them the tools they need to keep their business safe. We also have the highest level of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards compliance available and as an Australian Financial Service Licensee, we are independently audited and reviewed each year. This just gives practices one less thing to worry about.”
Massey added: “Something else we hear from practices all the time is that they want to cut down the number of programs they use.”
What would it mean for practices if those problems were solved well?
Can spend more time on providing a great patient experience, and less time on administrative burdens
There’s one less program for staff to learn. With payments integrated within your Genie software the payment is triggered on the terminal, avoiding keying errors, and updating the patient record to show it’s been paid
The care team can feel confident in the automated, integrated and secure tools that help them to focus on their patients
Patients feel supported by the practice staff who are not distracted by the workflows required to navigate patients through the system
Patients can have space to digest their treatment options, and the control to pay when and how it suits them.
Modern digital touchpoints allow patients to pay 24/7, 365 days a year, regardless of practice opening hours.
What can companies do to help improve the efficiency of practices and the overall health system?
Dan is passionate about providing customer centric solutions across the medical industry.
“Some common pitfalls that move developers away from their users are easy to fall into.
“A big mistake is developing in a silo internal to your company then putting a product or service out there and hoping for the best. Regardless of how good the product is, or how smart the people were involved with building it, this is a huge gamble as you don’t know how well it will be adopted and integrated into a user’s life.
“What works at Genie to bridge this gap is to ensure our ways of working force us out of these silos.
“Co-design is the key to product development. It’s not about getting all the requirements up front then spending 18 months in a vacuum to build it.
“It’s more about getting out to users and figuring the entire thing out with them - finding the right problems to solve, spending time observing their workflows, testing prototypes and ideas with them, and running high touch pilot programs before you launch.
“Working in this way helps shift the mindset away from a tech-centric-view into a user-centric-view. It’s hard to go too far down a pathway where things just won’t work, when your users are walking beside you. And, by doing this when you do get to the point where a product or service is ready, you can be confident it will have a real positive impact on their lives.
“Genie is investing more than anybody right now in solving problems for practices. Working in this way means we spend our time on the things that have an impact.
“These principles can also apply to the broader industry. I believe we need to:
Lean into systemic problems
Stop building in silos, and encourage companies to be more open to collaborative
Focus on open standards and interoperability so we’re all speaking a common language.”
What’s coming up that will change the way specialist practices process payments?
Masseh is excited about upcoming changes in the world of payments that will benefit both practices and their patients.
“In the fast disruptive environment of payments, a safe pair of hands is critical and one of the key capabilities that launched on July 1 is the New Payments Platform (NPP), which is essentially real time payments.
“The NPP - or PayTo - gives patients the autonomy to make payments in more effective and creative ways. They can pay an invoice or a deposit for a procedure from a bank account or a credit card in less than a second.
“Not only is it safe and secure, it’s almost instant.
“Practices will receive their money faster and longer payment descriptions will make it easier for patients to understand their statements, reducing confusion.
“This capability is coming to life over the next few months across the industry and we’re really keen to see how we can drive value, experience, capability and peace of mind to practices to receive payments fast but also for patients to make payments effectively.”
About Talking HealthTech
Talking HealthTech features content and community for those wanting to learn and connect about technology in healthcare. To join the conversation or find out more visit https://www.talkinghealthtech.com/