How an Integrated Approach to Payments Benefits Patients and Staff

This is a guest post from Ryne Natzke, Vice President of Strategic Accounts and Healthcare at Sphere.

As healthcare providers look to reduce bad debt and improve the patient billing experience, they are introducing a number of new technologies to meet the patient where they are and provide convenient options to understand and pay their medical bills. The availability of APIs from EHR vendors has made it much easier to pull balance information and post payments to the patient’s account, allowing providers to implement these tools to supplement the native EHR payment workflows.

More Platforms, More Complexity

The proliferation of payment technology works very well when each patient or staff member is using one system at a time. But what happens if the same staff member could use two (or more) different systems to accept payments at the same workstation? It’s likely that each application is integrated into its own gateway, which has its own device support. Supporting multiple devices is not only a clunky workflow for your staff, it can be expensive with terminals and encrypted keypads costing hundreds of dollars apiece.

Let’s walk through a common example in a call center. A billing office could be using a platform to help with personalized payment options, like VisitPay, in addition to their Epic system for one-time payments. The user could be alternating between systems based on the payment type, keying in card information using an encrypted keypad to reduce PCI scope and increase security. In order to avoid purchasing two devices (and have users remember which device belonged to which application), the integrated gateways in Epic and VisitPay need to not only support the same device but allow for device sharing between multiple applications.

Carilion Clinic’s Integrated Approach for Patients and Staff

This is exactly the situation that Carilion Clinic had earlier this year. They are a longtime Epic user who recently added VisitPay to enhance their patient billing workflows. Using VisitPay’s integration to MyChart, they were able to provide a smooth self-service experience for patients to pay their bills. When they extended their VisitPay implementation to enable call center staff to provide personalized payment plans and consolidated payments for non-digital patients, a physical device was added to the mix.

Fortunately, Carilion Clinic was already using Sphere to secure and process their integrated payments in Epic, and VisitPay was also integrated to Sphere’s TrustCommerce gateway technology. The VisitPay, Carilion Clinic, and Sphere teams worked together to test and implement the shared device workflow, which successfully went live over the summer. Carilion Clinic was able to save thousands of dollars in new devices, simplify the workflow for their staff, and use a shared payment platform that allows them to report on all transactions regardless of the originating system.

An Integrated Payment Platform

This scenario is not limited to the back office. Similar situations could exist with a kiosk or self-service workflow in a waiting room or at the front desk at the point of service. Device considerations are often an overlooked part of expanded payment workflows and standardizing on a single integrated payment platform can help prevent unexpected device costs and streamline the user experience.

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