These days, it’s hard to tell whether healthcare costs or consumer expectations are rising faster. Regardless, Health Systems are beginning to recognize these as major issues. Therefore, they must address them by delivering a more modern payment experience for patients. Yet, a surprising element can hinder these efforts: overly complex vendor management responsibilities.

When it comes to patient payments, Health Systems typically deploy an assortment of technologies from various vendors. These tools could include eCheck processing, credit card processing, posting services, online bill pay, check readers for point-of-service and more. Additionally, as consumer expectations continue to rise, Health Systems plug functional gaps with even more new consumer tools or payment infrastructure.

This puzzle of solutions can make it difficult to provide a consumer-centric, modern payment experience that’s intuitive for both staff and patients. Instead, Health Systems must simplify their vendor management responsibilities. This can be achieved with consumer payment options that are backed by robust health-specific payment infrastructure. Here’s why this is important:

1. Simplified vendor management ensures an intuitive, modern patient payment experience.

Every Health System should have one vendor that can aggregate all patient payment data on one platform. This includes all credit, debit, eCheck, cash and HSA or FSA payment data across all web, automated phone, point-of-service and mobile channels. Aggregating this data means patients can manage all of their accounts and medical bills across an entire Health System in one place. In other words, a mother can pay for her son’s emergency department visit and her co-pay to her primary care physician in a few clicks.

2. Integrating payment and communication tools under one system highlights opportunities for improvement.

A scalable system that integrates payment and communication tools empowers Health Systems to continuously improve patient payment performance. An integrated solution leverages patient payment volume to reveal how effective a Health System’s outreach efforts are. With system-wide visibility, financial communication can be linked to outcomes, a.k.a. completed payments.

Revenue cycle leaders can accurately answer questions like: which methods of engagement drive the most patient payments? Or, how can we influence patients to pay in the most cost-effective way? Organizations may find that certain engagement efforts, like follow up phone calls to patients, are not worth the cost, while other efforts, like text notifications, consistently prove worthwhile. Simplified vendor management makes it much easier to translate engagement to payment dollars. This supports a modern payment experience that Health Systems can monitor and improve over time, which is much better than adding on new tool or functionality here and there.

3. System-wide visibility empowers staff to deliver a modern payment experience, even at the POS.

With a unified system, Health System staff can easily view up-to-date balances, payments and statements. A centralized platform with streamlined workflows can also prompt staff to collect outstanding balances and compound payments from anywhere in the Health System. As a result, staff can help patients settle charges in one swift interaction.

Better visibility also makes it easier for staff to answer questions from patients. When patients call about their bill, staff can quickly locate the appropriate account and answer their questions. In fact, one large Health System was able to reduce call handle times by one minute. Reduced call times help ensure patient satisfaction. After all, who likes to wait on hold when they have a simple question?

In short, simplifying vendor management makes it easier to deliver the modern payment experience that today’s patients expect. Furthermore, this enables Health Systems to iterate and improve on that experience for the patients of the future. Who knew vendor management could have such an impact on the patient financial experience?