When picturing futuristic technology, what images come to mind? Many envision flying cars or robotic assistants that complete undesirable tasks. But what about improvements to healthcare payment processes? No? Well, maybe you should.
While these inventions may still have a few more years in the planning phase, medical technology continues to advance every single day. Hospital usage rate of patient accessible electronic health records (EHRs) was only 10% back in 2013, while predictions suggest 90% will have an EHR system implemented by the end of 2017. Currently, the mobile health (mHealth) industry market size falls at $25.39 billion and is projected to double by 2020.
Not only does technology advancement aid in the treatment of sick patients, but it also assists in simplifying the process of patient payments, and decreasing costs for such services. Let’s look at three technology advancements to watch closely over the next few years.
Telemedicine defines as the diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunications such as Skype, FaceTime or any form of video chat. The service predominantly adds value to rudimentary healthcare visits involving minor health issues. Online doctor visits save the patient any hassle of physical travel, long wait times, and expensive co-pays for basic needs. It also frees up physicians to see patients with greater needs. This service is growing at an alarming rate and will continue to do so over the next few years. In fact, 90% of healthcare executives claimed to be in the process of implementing a telemedicine program for their practice in 2014. As of May 2017, Texas became the final state to eliminate in-person requirements prior to a medical video screening. But how does this impact patient payments?
“Clearly consumers are not only becoming aware of telemedicine but starting to demand access to it. It is becoming a part of the standard of care that should be made available throughout the country.”
-Jonathan D. Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association
This technological advancement simplifies necessary doctor visits at a cheaper cost to both patient and practice, which has a bigger impact on healthcare payments than you may believe. In the reality of insurance insecurity and sky-rocketing co-payments, any service that can reduce medical costs will increase the number of patients paying their medical obligations. Also, new online services will require implementation or expansion of patient payments and their portals.
2. Mobile Apps
There’s no denying that the internet adds ease and simplicity to many services. Consider paying medical bills, for example. Buying stamps, driving to the nearest post office and writing a check creates a hassle to the healthcare payment process. The introduction of online payment options eliminates much of the time required to send payment from patient to provider.
Now, consider the improved ease and simplicity offered by mobile application payment portals. Apps provide even more accessibility than a website, are touch-optimized, and save patient information for increased speed. As these apps become more prevalent, the use of mail-in patient payments will eventually decline.
3. Online Pharmaceuticals
Why do we buy online? Flexibility to compare items? Shopping from the comfort of our own home? Most shoppers choose online retailers for their lower prices. In fact, 71% of online shoppers believe they will find a better deal compared to an in-store purchase.
It may be that some of your healthcare payments go to an online retailer in the near future. It’s not surprising that Amazon is beginning to explore the idea of an online pharmacy. Patients order their prescriptions online and have them delivered directly to their doorstep. Amazon also benefits from their ability to deal with manufacturers directly and negotiate competitive pricing for the drugs. This pharmaceutical change could significantly affect the drug market and the entire healthcare industry, altering patient payments wildly in the coming years and decade.
The healthcare sector encompasses a great deal of uncertainty. However, the industry can count on continual technological advancements that will not only improve medical care but also make treatment more affordable and patient payment options simpler.