Collecting co-payments, deductibles, and coinsurance payments directly from patients represent an important aspect of clinical operations. Those payments make up a large and highly important part of a healthcare organization’s overall revenues, and ensuring they can be collected with as little friction as possible is the key to keeping accounts receivable down and cash flow up. That makes choosing the right payment processing partner an important choice, and there are some key considerations that clinics need to keep in mind when doing so. Four of the most important are how a payment processor fits with organizational size and needs, how they structure their transaction fees, the level of security offered, and the ease of integration with existing organizational payment systems. By keeping a close eye on those four areas during the selection process, clinics can ensure they wind up with the right processing solutions, at the right price, maximizing profits while streamlining payment handling for staff and patients alike.
Consider Options Based on the Size of the Organization and Organizational Needs
The needs of the clinic or organization based on size and patient volume are one of the primary factors in selecting a payment processor. For example, a single-doctor practice is going to have very different operations and a very different patient roster than a hospital or an even larger entity like a health maintenance organization. As a result, they’ll also have very different payment processing needs. That can also mean more options, as enterprise-level solutions available from some of the largest global processors will likely be necessary for larger organizations, whereas small clinics have the option of choosing third-party processors to ease the requirements related to acceptance and set-up. That isn’t to say more traditional merchant services and payment processing options aren’t still a better option for smaller clinics, just that they have an option to take a slightly lower friction route as well, should they so choose.
Consider the Fee Structure on Transaction Processing
The cost of accepting electronic payments is another obvious driver in the selection of a payment processor, as even small differences in transaction fees can add up to huge amounts of money, especially for large healthcare organizations handling a high volume of transactions. Smaller clinics considering the choice between third-party processors and traditional merchant accounts might be surprised by how far apart the two can be in fees. Third-party processors certainly offer a great deal of convenience and a low-friction sign-up process, but with that convenience comes higher flat-rate transaction fees that can have a very negative impact on profits, making it worthwhile for most clinics to opt for traditional merchant services. For larger organizations choosing between major payment processors, one of the key differentiators to consider is the type of pricing structure each offers. Some merchant accounts offer fee structures similar to third-party processors – a certain set percentage of each transaction plus a flat fee. Other processors offer a model called “interchange-plus” pricing, in which the transaction fees are based on the actual interchange rates set by the card company. Interchange-plus pricing ensures healthcare organizations are never overcharged on the processing fees for low-interchange cards like Visa Debit cards. The savings that result are generally significant.
Consider the Level of Security Offered
Security is obviously a huge part of the equation anytime medical care is involved, and it’s no different when it comes to payment processing because keeping a patient’s sensitive personal payment data secure from outside threats is just as important as securing their electronic protected health information. The first major step in protecting that payment data is meeting the standards for PCI compliance – something all organizations accepting credit cards are required to do. Getting PCI compliant can be a complex process, so looking for a payment processor that will provide guidance and assistance during that process is generally a good idea. From there, the key consideration is ensuring that all points of transaction processing will be handled securely. If utilizing a customer resource management platform for payment handling, it’s essential to ensure that the platform is fully PCI Level 1 compliant and undergoes regular security updates to ensure constant protection. MedicalCRM, the healthcare industry’s leading practice management tool, meets both of those requirements, offering the highest level of PCI compliance and regular penetration testing and security audits to ensure the maximum possible safeguarding of patient payment data.
Consider Integration with Existing or Emerging Systems
The final thing to consider when selecting a processor is how well that processor will integrate with existing technology and systems. Brand new clinics won’t have a lot to consider in this respect because they’ll be essentially working from scratch anyway, meaning they can pick and choose technology as needed if they decide to select a payment processor first. But established healthcare organizations with either existing technology already running, or plans for system upgrades in the near future should ensure that whatever payment processing solution they choose will integrate with everything as seamlessly as possible. There are a number of integrations to consider, ranging from existing in-office payment terminals to billing and payments software and beyond.
One great way to essentially eliminate issues with integration is to utilize a billing and payment-enabled customer resource management tool, like MedicalCRM. MedicalCRM includes a full payment suite that enables organizations to offer multiple convenient payment options to patients, both in-clinic, online, or even over the phone. The Authorize.Net integration allows any merchant account to be easily integrated directly into MedicalCRM so that payments from any major credit card can be handled at the front desk via EMV-compliant terminals, or electronically from the comfort of a patient’s own home. Additionally, integration with the Paya network enables e-checks to be accepted via the ACH network. In addition to making payment fast and easy for patients, these tools enable clinics to collect payments faster, spend less time chasing down receivables and automate as much of the billing and payments process as possible, reducing the workload on clinic administrative staff.
For more information on how MedicalCRM’s advanced billing and payments suite can integrate seamlessly with your clinic’s payment processor, enabling you to reduce the workload associated with billing and collect payments faster, sign up for your fully functional free trial!