Bank of America: Digital Makes Healthcare Payments as Easy as Paying Any Other Merchant

There’s no shortage of analysis these days about the effect inflation has had — and will have — on the banking and payments industry. But there are other implications as well. For example, inflation has also pressured the healthcare system, and here several companies are considering the impact that digitization and patient financing offered at the point of sale can have.

Among those companies is Bank of AmericaGalen Robbins, managing director, head of global merchant acquiring sales at Bank of America, said that the first quarter of 2024 has helped point the way to innovation in healthcare transactions — and the consumerization of payments.

The bank’s healthcare clients, he said, have been grappling with inflation and now are tasked with finding operational efficiencies from their payments and receivables operations. Better efficiencies, he said, lead to stronger cash flow management.

Robbins’ remarks came as part of the What’s Next in Payments” series, which focuses on the events of the first quarter — and what the macro trends are that will determine the balance of the year.

Digitization, he said, can help improve those efficiencies, eliminating paper checks, paper invoices and delayed payments.

Large and complex healthcare firms, Robbins said, need to examine how they manage and send payments and receipts — and how the consumer-facing interactions are facilitated at the point of care.

“You and I have more healthcare choices than we did 10 years ago — and even five years ago. So it’s really important that you get the experiences right,” he said.

Modernization and tech-driven efforts, he said, “provide a better experience to their patients,” who are spending their daily lives on mobile devices. Robbins said he believes that hospital systems and other providers that have sought to interact with patients on those devices can improve their efforts.

Individuals can, of course, log into their phones to schedule appointments or look at their test results. The mobile device, he said, can also be a conduit to patient financing options — always available and personalized, so that managing receivables at a provider becomes more efficient.

“It reduces risk, and it reduces expenses to have an integrated solution,” Robbins said.

He said that connecting the payments, receivables and financing ecosystems as soon as patients enter the doctor’s office can have positive ripple effects across all stakeholders.

A significant part of the shift involves adapting to heightened consumer expectations. Patients now demand the same seamless and frictionless payment experiences they encounter in retail and other consumer sectors.

“Our job is to guide healthcare clients through digitizing and streamlining their processes to not only reduce costs but also enhance the service quality delivered to patients,” Robbins said.

He recounted the example where he met with a Bank of America client who asked if Robbins held consumer and retail roundtables that could help inform how to deliver frictionless and streamlined payment experiences akin to what they might enjoy at a restaurant or grocery store.

“When you sit down with the directors of payments at large healthcare institutions,” he said, “they are asking the same things that their counterparts at Consumer & Retail companies are asking.”

Looking ahead, Robbins envisions a healthcare payment landscape that fully embraces consumerization. He suggests three strategic takeaways for healthcare financial leaders:

  • Emphasize Consumerization: Understand and integrate the lessons from consumer retail to improve patient interactions and satisfaction.
  • Holistic Solutions: Aim for comprehensive, end-to-end solutions that reduce friction, drive efficiency and lower expenses.
  • Dual Focus: Maintain a balance between enhancing the patient experience and optimizing the financial ecosystem.

For the companies that get it right, he said, “the patient and the client experiences drive loyalty. Full stop.”