Startups have done a great job improving payment experiences by making them invisible to the end user. There’s no awkward fumbling around for a credit card when you get out of an Uber. It just works, sending a customer quickly on her way.
That’s not the case with healthcare payments. Consumer payments in the U.S. healthcare system generally mimic the poor consumer experience patients have. The process is still quite heavy on paper statements and office staff, who need to assist on most transactions. Since U.S. patients are responsible for their own healthcare payments, a poor payment experience detracts from a patient’s overall interaction with the health system. Unfortunately, the result is that many patients fail to make payments, even if they can afford to.
“Healthcare providers must ultimately improve billing communication to ensure a trusted bill with a convenient and flexible checkout,” said John Adractas, chief growth and marketing officer of Simplee, a healthcare payment platform that serves over 1000 healthcare providers.
Healthcare industry-specific challenges
Getting payments right in the healthcare industry isn’t as easy as just porting over best practices from ecommerce and retail. Driven by HIPAA’s PHI related regulations, providers in the U.S. have a higher threshold for privacy protections than most industries. But that doesn’t mean experience from other consumer industries can’t help create a better product.
Concepts like self-serve check-in and payments have helped inform the design and evolution of Simplee’s patient financial care platform. Providers using the Palo Alto-based startup’s technology can reach patients with omni channel campaigns, interactive billing details, and convenient payment choices from PayPal to credit options.
“The result has been better front-end engagement through clear, actionable communications, the ability to pay in many ways across many channels, and patient-driven payments and financing options,” said Adractas, who claims that some Simplee customers have seen payments increase by 10x.
Build it mobile and they will come
If healthcare providers struggle with providing payment flows inside their offices, their mobile experiences are worse. Few have strong mobile accessibility and support. That needs to change as mobile devices become the preferred method people use to make payments.
Simplee, which uses mobile responsive design instead of standalone apps for its mobile payment solutions, is experiencing strong growth in mobile payments, especially in rural areas. In less populated areas, Simplee sees a mobile transaction rate upwards of 30 to 50 percent.
Double sided transactions
Improving the payment experience in the healthcare industry means not only servicing customers better but finding a way to improve the experience for providers, as well. Healthcare payments have often been a divisive experience for patients and staff because they work off different systems and information sources.
The Simplee platform was developed to more closely align and empower staff and patients in their interactions, like enabling them to work from the same screen view to resolve problems quicker.
“Simplee believes that ‘Happy Staff’ is just as critical as, and often a key component of delivering, ‘Happy Customers’,” said Adractas. Catering to staff members as a core audience helps healthcare providers launch faster with less training demands.
Looking down the pipeline
There’s a lot of opportunity to improve healthcare payments. Future technologies like blockchain are likely to play a role.
“Blockchain is a promising innovation for healthcare in terms of its potential to manage a high volume of complex transactions for everything from medical records to payments,” said Adractas. “Simplee is excited to see how blockchain technology evolves and merges with healthcare’s unique operating environment.”