The Unique Payment Processing Challenges in the Healthcare Sector
Virtually all businesses face payment processing challenges at least once in their lifecycle. For medical practitioners, however, processing payments can be particularly challenging. Consequently, although the benefits of new technology in transactions – reduced operating costs, improved security, enhanced reliability and efficient processing – cannot be understated, the health-care industry has been dragging behind other sectors in the race to keep up with emerging payment innovations.
Below are some of the unique hurdles that payment processing trends pose to healthcare providers.
- Patient financial responsibility
Because of the increasing number of high-deductible health care plans, many healthcare establishments are experiencing a significant increase in patient financial responsibility. This means that, rather than billing insurance firms and other corporate payers, medical practitioners are predominantly dealing directly with customers.
Therefore, health-care providers typically have many different payments to track, which translates to complex financial management systems. Moreover, study shows that most customers pay for services rendered via paper checks, due in part to ingrained paper-based billing practices, which further complicates the accounting process.
The intricate nature of financial management increases processing costs and negatively affects cash flow.
- Updating EHR/PM software
In the patient payment process, the EHR/PM software converts the treatment services offered to the amount a patient is billed. While most EHR/PM software can calculate what is owed to the healthcare provider, many don’t have the capability to process the payment. The processing must, therefore, be done with a separate solution, which means that once a patient makes a payment, a practitioner must manually update the balance in the EHR/PM.
Healthcare establishments that fail to track and tag each patient transaction often find it difficult or time-consuming to make EHR/PM updates.
- Protecting patient financial data
As a healthcare provider, you’re likely familiar with all requirements and strategies needed to prevent the exposure of Protected Health Information, most importantly, H1PAA compliance. However, many payment processing companies aren’t up to date with the relevant standards. In addition to carrying heavy penalties, healthcare breaches have the potential to damage a practitioner’s reputation.
Therefore, it’s not enough that a third-party payment services provider be PCI compliant. All health-care providers must verify that the vendors supporting their payments infrastructure are HIPAA compliant as well.
The above are just a few of the many healthcare payment processing difficulties that healthcare establishments face every day. Nonetheless, new trends are addressing some of these challenges. For instance, some payment processing companies, such as eMerchantBroker, now have service packs specifically designed for healthcare businesses.
In addition to offering credit card processing service, these packs come with the latest security enhancements and are fully compatible with EHR/PM software.