Better Patient Billing Starts with a Patient-First Approach

Twenty years ago, Shelly Papadopoulos found herself frustrated by something that millions of people around the country can relate to: the complexity of our healthcare system. She didn’t understand why someone needed to be an industry professional to understand the financial experience, or why you needed to get bills in the mail for seemingly each separate hospital charge. It was confusing. Shelly knew there was a better way, and she thought she could help. That’s why she got into the healthcare industry and product management. When she was introduced to VisitPay, whose goal is to simplify those complexities for patients and providers, she knew she could make an impact. 

Today, Shelly is the Director of Product, Integrations and Data Solutions at VisitPay. She has continued to pursue her goal of reducing the complexities of healthcare finance with a team who believes in the same thing she does: the key to improving the patient financial experience is a commitment to an end-to-end patient-first approach. 

We sat down with Shelly to discuss the ways a patient-first approach has been built into VisitPay, and how we use data and technology to help guide the development. 

How do data and technology contribute to the patient financial experience?

Shelly: The patient’s user experience is enhanced with VisitPay because we have a variety of tools in place to make that journey simpler and more seamless. For example, when a patient comes over to a health system’s VisitPay billing platform from a digital front door or online portal, we use a single sign-on system to make that transition smooth so it doesn’t feel like a separate system. We’re able to get the user into the bill pay system and get them paying bills, as effortlessly as possible. 

Another huge impact on the patient financial experience is our ability to gather real-time information. We pull in data feeds from health systems on a daily basis, and are able to update the patients’ accounts. We keep VisitPay and health systems up to date on patient payments, whether handled outside of or within VisitPay’s system. Most importantly, from a patient’s perspective, it feels like one seamless experience.

How does data help you measure the patient’s financial experience? 

Shelly: Data permeates every area of our product—for both patient and health system users. 

First, we use data to understand which groups of patients are interested in financing options and present those individuals with the best options for them based on data segmentation.

Second, we use data extensively to help revenue cycle teams with their day-to-day reconciliations. We provide online reports within our client portal that our health system partners use daily. They receive detailed operational reports to understand the payment rates they’re getting from their bill pay users—rates that give them trends on a daily basis and over time. 

Our dashboards present clients with the big picture, showing overall payment rates, finance plan payment rates, and what the population behavior looks like. This lets clients plan accordingly and build their strategies around those data points.

How does VisitPay set itself apart from Epic and other types of EMRs that offer a patient billing component? 

Shelly: VisitPay offers features that no EMR does. One of the biggest is our proprietary user segmentation that provides customized payment options to patients. We also utilize Text to Pay, allowing users to be notified of visits, set up payment plans, and confirm auto payments. There are a lot of other nuances to the VisitPay platform that set us apart from Epic and other EMRs that offer a patient billing component that makes VisitPay a much more robust solution.

From a strategic billing segment perspective, we use the data within our platform to understand an individual’s propensity to pay. We’re able to quickly understand how likely a person is to pay their bill. If they’re on the fence, that’s where health systems should spend the time and effort. They should reach out to those individuals and say, “Did you know that you have these flexible payment options?” A lot of patients don’t know about these opportunities and appreciate being able to take advantage of them. 

Helping health systems reduce the amount of time, effort, and money they spend trying to collect on different accounts—that’s an important strategy we can work with health systems to facilitate. And it’s something that a traditional EMR isn’t set up to do.


Shelly came into the healthcare industry to make a difference. At VisitPay, she’s put that passion to work helping build a solution with a patient-first approach. The result is a financial experience that’s seamless, transparent, consolidated, and most of all, patient-friendly.

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