The Hospital of the Future: Contactless Payments, Happy Patients
As healthcare payments continue to evolve to meet consumer demand, hospital leaders will need to evolve as well. Here are four things they should consider when updating their operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated contactless payments everywhere—from coffee shops to grocery stores to big box retailers and beyond.
Many hospitals upgraded their systems as well to meet overwhelming consumer demand for electronic payments. According to InstaMed’s Trends in Healthcare Payments 11th Annual Report, 85% of consumers prefer an electronic payment method for medical bills, and 78% want all contactless healthcare options to remain in the future.
For hospitals that have made the switch to contactless payments, the benefits have been noteworthy. Boston Children’s Hospital, for example, adopted a cashless payments strategy in 2018 through its partnership with InstaMed, a J.P. Morgan company. Since then, the hospital has seen a 93% increase in copay collection and a 17% reduction in refunds—and 60% of payments are now captured during the patient visit.
As healthcare payments continue to evolve, here are four things hospital leaders should consider when updating their operations.
The Future Is Already Here
Contactless payments are popular for a simple reason: They work. And now that millions of people have used the technology—and have experienced how easy it is to pay for goods and services—there’s no turning back. The vast majority of people want to use contactless payments for as many transactions as possible.
If healthcare providers don’t upgrade their payment systems, they run a real risk of their patients going elsewhere. According to the Trends in Healthcare Payments 11th Annual Report, 56% of consumers would consider switching providers for a better healthcare payments experience.
Hospitals need to respond now to this changing payments landscape. Failure to do so could affect their bottom lines, which in turn could affect how well they can serve their communities.
It’s OK to Work in Phases
Hospital systems are large organizations with thousands of employees and multiple technology platforms—often spread out over several locations. But large hospitals shouldn’t be scared off by the size of the project.
Instead of using a “big bang” philosophy that changes everything at once, hospitals should consider taking a phased approach. They could update the payment experience in their emergency department first, for instance, before moving on to outpatient clinics and specialty areas.
Another way to look at phases is to “be the patient.” Hospitals can map out all of the patient experience interactions—from scheduling appointments to checking in at the facility to receiving a bill—to find the pain points in the system. Then they’ll know exactly where to focus their resources.
Who’s On Your Team?
Switching to a contactless payment system is typically a cross-functional project. It includes teams from finance and information technology, as well as patient experience stakeholders and executive sponsors. As hospital leaders evaluate the scope of the project, it’s important that they understand each team’s role and what everyone brings to the table.
A few key questions to consider: How will you handle cybersecurity, both for payments and patient records? Who will integrate the new payment system into the existing healthcare IT system? And do you truly understand the patient and staff experience, especially for those who work in finance or interact directly with patients?
Knowing the answers to these questions should make the transition much easier.
The Transformed CFO
Over the past few years, CFOs in all sectors have taken on more strategic roles. They’re no longer passive financial gatekeepers who only look at the bottom line. They’re now heavily involved in every aspect of the business.
Hospital CFOs are no exception. The best in the industry are constantly looking for ways to improve the patient experience while also finding efficiencies in their operations. They’re tech-savvy and understand data, and they can work with teams from different departments to drive change.
Going forward, that strategic role will only grow bigger. Hospital CFOs will be asked to do more than ever before. But that expanded role also will bring an opportunity to provide patients with the payment options they demand.
Navigating It All
The healthcare industry is undergoing rapid change. How payments are processed five years from now may be vastly different from how they’re processed today.
Ideally, over the next few years, contactless payments at hospitals will be as common as they are in retail stores across the country. They’re everywhere—and people love them.
At J.P. Morgan, we have experience in the sector, and we can help hospitals and healthcare organizations navigate the ever-shifting healthcare landscape.
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