How Mobile Payments for Healthcare Are a Win for Patients, Providers, and Billing

If you’ve been stuck behind a slow individual checking out at a grocery store, few things evoke as much ire as someone paying by check. More than merely being slow and unruly, the biggest grievance is the stubborn refusal by that individual to adapt to more modern payment methods. “Why can’t they just use a card?”, you think to yourself with a white-knuckle grip on your shopping cart, “They’d be done in a second!”

If that gets you worked up, then you may want to skip the below stats about the healthcare industry.

That’s a whole lot paper and a whole lot of slow. And these bills won’t be going anywhere soon. By 2022, the U.S. healthcare payments market is expected to reach an estimated $5 trillion. Two years later, in 2024, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (or CMS) estimates $1 out of every $5 will be spent on healthcare, meaning more bills than ever, only exacerbating the issue.

It’s obvious that a solution needs to be found. How can we make patient statements easier to understand and just as convenient to pay? Why can’t paying a medical bill be as easy as, say, splitting a check at a restaurant?

Actually, soon enough it will be. Mobile payment methods and mobile-specific payment portals and apps are the solutions the healthcare field needs, making paying and understanding your medical bills just as easy as paying your utilities online.

Now, there’s reason to be skeptical. We’ve been used to reading articles like this one from Forbes about how cash is dead since 2014, yet we’re all likely sitting on a few bucks right now, pretty literally in fact. It may seem like mobile is the future of payments in the same way that Ryan Leaf is the future of the San Diego Chargers, but that’s not true. From that same CMS report above, 68% of consumers were quoted as preferring electronic payment methods and 20% are already making payments on a mobile device. We’re not predicting the future here… the future is here already. To satisfy rising consumer demand and help reduce turnaround, a mobile payment solution is essential.

Now, let’s take a step back. Mobile payments… what does that mean, really? Before we discuss the benefits, we need to know that mobile payments encapsulate a wide variety of payment methods, including but not limited to:

  • Mobile Wallets: Typically linking directly to a bank account, mobile wallets are widely utilized in apps such as Venmo or Square Cash. These can be used in both peer to peer (like sending your share of a bill to a buddy) or direct to a business in a point-of-sale system (paying a grocery bill). Speaking of…
  • Near Field Communication: Have you seen those commercials with someone waving their phone over a credit card reader? That’s near-field communication or NFC. More of an extension to the mobile wallet or apps like Apple & Android Pay, credit card or bank information can be transferred from one device to another by simply sharing proximity.
  • Payment Portals: You’re likely familiar with these if you’ve ever paid a student loan or utility bill online. These secure sites allow you to store payment information and pay, manage, and view bills. These payments are often instantaneous, without the need for the three business day window of old.

With a wide variety of payment solutions and benefits out there, it’s easy to tell why mobile payment solutions can help your patients pay their bill faster and on-time. But it’s more than just saying it. What can you do to facilitate mobile payment in your existing billing solutions? Keep these elements in mind:

  • Make it Easy: Whether you patients receive a paper bill, email, or text notifying them that a payment is due, you can facilitate mobile payments in a method that is easy for them to utilize. Paper bills, for example, can contain a QR code that, once scanned, takes users directly to a payment portal. Electronic payments can be scheduled on apps like Apple Pay, and emails can include a button or link that goes directly to an Apple Pay checkout. The easier the process is, the more likely a user will be to complete it.
  • Make it Informative: Remember that stat about users not understanding their bill and how it leads to late payments? You’ll need to do more than just ask for and accept hard earned money. If a user can pay with a mobile device, ensure that they can also quickly and easily find their responsibility, see past bills, and a breakdown of each bill.
  • Make it Comprehensive: Only accepting Apple Pay means Android users are left in the dust. If you’re going to accept payments from mobile devices and are optimizing the experience for a mobile audience, ensure that no one gets left in the dust. Offering multiple payment solutions (card, mobile wallet, real-time payments, QR Code scans) over a variety of platforms (traditional billing, electronic bills) ensures users can utilize the method that works best for them.
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Michael Bell is the Chief Marketing Officer for MailMyStatements. Mike is a dynamic, innovative thinker, a healthcare technology advocate, a consumer, a patient, and an avid golfer.

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