One of the toughest parts for patients who receive multiple bills for an episode of care isn’t just that the charges are divided by which entity performed the service; it’s that each bill may have its own unique format, call to action, payment options, and customer service center. Lack of billing standardization among separate providers is (for now) a reality that must be dealt with.
Consider the following scenario. A patient receives care from multiple entities during an emergency room visit. He or she not only receives multiple bills for a single episode of care, but the bills themselves might come from different billing partners and have different formats, language, and payment options. For example, an invoice from the radiologist that offers no online bill pay option, or a bill from the physician whose bill pay info can’t be found on his or her website. This only serves to confuse the patient further in addition to any correspondence from the insurance company. For a complicated procedure like surgery or giving birth, a patient may receive more than five separate invoices.
Now consider a different, though not mutually exclusive scenario. A patient receives only one invoice from a provider- but with several disparate payment options. He or she makes a partial payment online through the provider website, but pays the remainder of the balance over the phone a few weeks later. Confusion ensues when the patient receives a call requesting the payment he or she has already made, due to the second payment not having posted.
In the first scenario, the burden of complexity falls on the patient. The patient is responsible for tracking and paying each invoice, and this is often a tedious exercise in organization. Come tax season, the patient must revisit each invoice for exact dollar amounts. There is a growing industry of patient billing advocates, who are hired for the sole purpose helping patients navigate the billing process.
In the second scenario, the burden of complexity falls on the provider. In the patient’s mind, he or she has made two separate payments to the same entity, but to the provider the patient paid 2 billing entities which must then be consolidated and posted before it can be tracked and analyzed. The latter depends on both payment channels reporting in an accurate and timely manner. This is a risk of using disparate vendors for each payment channel.
Both scenarios cost time, money, and sanity for both the patient and the provider. Though sometimes multiple invoices for the patient may be inevitable, providers can cut down complexity by consolidating their payment channels onto a single platform. Then, if the patient makes multiple payments through multiple channels, the money travels to the same place to be posted and the provider saves the time of making an unnecessary call. A medical center in Vidalia, GA was able to achieve $100k in operational cost savings by consolidating patient payment vendors, largely through adoption of self-service payment channels.
With all the other challenges facing your revenue cycle, why take on the extra work of manual consolidation with multiple vendors? Consider grouping your patient payment channels into a single platform and your patients and staff with thank you.