Increased electronic engagement between healthcare providers and patients provides significant opportunities for encouraging patients to access EHRs.
The introduction of meaningful use incentives has accelerated the evolution of electronic payment options from “nice to have” to “must have.” As federal EHR requirements ramp up, revenue cycle professionals should be highly involved in portal projects. Because many patients prefer to view statements and make online payments, providers can leverage the popularity of online payments to help drive traffic to electronic records. In some cases, that additional traffic could make the difference in whether a provider qualifies for meaningful use incentive pay.
Additionally, the number of health savings accounts and accompanying high-deductible health plans has grown significantly in the last four years. As a result, more patients are now paying directly for their healthcare services—and many providers have seen their billing-related costs and accounts receivable levels rise. As previously uninsured patients begin or increase their use of healthcare services under the Affordable Care Act, this trend is expected to continue.
Fortunately, online billing software can help improve revenue cycle metrics by reducing billing-related costs and accelerating collections. Patients who pay online are more likely to enroll in e-statement delivery, helping to reduce postage, paper, and printing related costs. Also, online portals can give patients access to past statements and payment data. This self-service data access means patients can answer many of their own billing-related questions, resulting in fewer incoming calls to billing staff. Also, when patients do call, they are often logged into the payment portal, with access to past statements. When both patients and call center representatives can review current and past billing data “live” together, calls are resolved faster and fewer customer service hours are spent answering billing-related questions.