Innovation starts with payments and ends with a streamlined and fully optimized payee experience.
But it needs to get past an iceberg of institutional inertia first — particularly within healthcare.
“You’d be surprised how many healthcare providers in the country still don’t even have a website for accepting online patient payments, and that you have to call an office to speak to someone to process a credit card transaction,” Brad Garfield, managing director and head of healthcare solutions at J.P. Morgan Commercial Banking, told PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster.
“Looking at the end-to-end patient experience, there’s so much opportunity for improvement,” he said.
These outdated healthcare processes not only create inconvenience, but they also slow down the payment process via long-standing fragmented billing systems, he said.
But improving the patient experience goes beyond digitizing payments. The scheduling and check-in processes can also be enhanced to provide better estimates, collect payment information in advance and offer payment plans.
By doing so, healthcare providers can streamline the payment process and provide a more convenient and efficient experience for their patients — reducing friction points in the overall healthcare system.
While modernizing the healthcare system requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on improving the end-to-end patient experience — streamlining processes and reducing friction points — it also needs to take into account a rising wave of next-generation fraud.
“We hear all the time about B2B vendor payments and fraud associated with business email compromise,” Garfield said. “It continues to be a real problem. A lot of companies have found that they just don’t have strong enough controls there.”
To combat fraud and enhance client and consumer experiences, healthcare organizations are increasingly turning to centralized payment processing and supplier directories.
And going digital also helps.
“With digital onboarding, one of the interesting things we’ve found is we can reduce the fraud, and it also ends up being the best opportunity to collect the payment instructions from the vendor upfront,” he said. “From there, we can drive more electronic and card adoption through payment terms enforcement and offers.”
The shift toward centralization is also being driven by the recognition that maintaining multiple channels and portals for clients is not only cumbersome, but also costly in the long run.
“It doesn’t make sense for a large organization to create multiple channels and portals for their clients,” Garfield said. “It’s what we refer to as portal fatigue.”
Garfield explained that a major issue patients face is the need for refunds, with over 40% of patients receiving refunds every year that are often due to overpayment or insurance adjudication. That’s why integrating processes and creating a seamless experience throughout the healthcare system is crucial.
“Something like patient refunds isn’t necessarily about having a new widget for making payments or using real-time [methods] to actually execute the payment,” he said. “It’s about going back and reengineering the entire process.”
The cost of issuing refunds also goes beyond the monetary value of the payment itself. It includes the cost of customer service calls, which can quickly add up, especially when payment information isn’t handled securely. Lack of HIPAA-compliant solutions for payment information can lead to hours of lost employee time, as healthcare providers must ensure that they are delivering HIPAA-compliant information about payments.
“Refunds are a problem that’s ubiquitous in the industry,” Garfield explained. “If you’re a small provider or a large hospital system, the scale of that problem will obviously be different, but everyone has the same issue. That’s why it’s critical to look at the context around the payment and find ways to add value.”
As for what the J.P. Morgan leader sees for the future?
“A healthcare landscape where providers have fully embraced technology,” he said. “A better way to do things already exists, and organizations need to retool their processes in order to capture the benefits.”