From a consumer perspective, payments — whether it’s ACH, Zelle, or Venmo — are automated to perfection and require little effort for the consumer to complete. They are reliable, intuitive and quick ways of sending money. If both parties in the transaction are plugged into the same platform, they can complete a transaction within seconds.
Healthcare payers, on the other hand, don’t have the same easy, streamlined experience. For starters, the two parties to the transaction—health plans and healthcare providers—are not always connected or plugged into the same platform. In other words, healthcare providers are not always enrolled in the health plan’s network to receive payments digitally. It’s not that health plans haven’t tried, but rather that providers have dragged their feet, unwilling to leave behind tried and true forms of payments like ACH and paper checks.
Payers understand that sending every payment digitally isn’t going to happen overnight, or even over the next five years. But it sure is worth automating some of those transactions. For example: If payers could change 40% of those remaining checks into digital payments, that would be a significant improvement.
But changing human behaviors isn’t easy. In the providers’ opinion, why fix what isn’t broken? Inertia can be a powerful force.
So just what will it take to break through that stalemate and get providers on board for digital payments? We asked providers that very question. Here’s what they said:
- 95% identified encryption and security of data as the most desirable feature or functionality that they would like to see in a digital payment. This should be a no-brainer. Anything that is digital today has to be equipped with the proper security measures.
- 85% noted that having an explanation of benefits attached to a digital payment would be valuable to them. Front-office staff spend a significant part of their daily or weekly workload chasing down and pairing EOBs with claim payments, which affects how quickly they can provide support and services to their customers.
- Three-quarters indicated that they would appreciate having a dashboard where they can view check images so they can print and retain for their records as needed. For providers, there is comfort and security in seeing the check, even if it is in digital format. You can store it, print it, review the notes on it, or file it.
- 70% said that receiving notifications on upcoming payments is useful. The U.S. has now surpassed one year of COVID-19 life. Visits to doctor’s offices are down, and while appointments are resuming gradually, the lost revenue remains lost. So, for providers today, liquidity and cash flow are matters of life or death. If a digital payment tool could furnish them with notifications on upcoming payments, this would send a lifeline to practice managers, accounts receivable managers, or revenue cycle managers, and provide them critical information to plan out their finances.
The road to reducing check payments and increasing digital payments will be not be quick or easy. Change takes time, and sometimes it takes longer than we’d like. However, there is now a path for healthcare payers to break through the stalemate of payments, to galvanize a change in healthcare provider behavior and to convert some of those check payments into digital form once and for all.
To learn more, check out this report on how healthcare payers are advancing digital payment strategies and better aligning with provider needs and expectations. You will also find it provides an overview of payments priorities, reveals insights into transaction and check-related cost metrics, and highlights which digital payments are likely set to see greater adoption.