Going paperless isn't a new idea, yet many healthcare organizations continue to resist the idea, despite data suggesting patients like paperless billing and are more likely to pay their bills in a timely fashion when they can do so online.
Going paperless is not a new idea. It began years ago as the concept of a paperless office environment began to take flight, and quickly spread. With the advent of tablets, smart phones, and other mobile devices, the death knell was sounded for the printed newspaper.
Those concepts, however, have not come to fruition. People still, and probably always will, like holding a newspaper in their hands. And the paperless office is still just a concept.
But where going paperless seems to make sound business and financial sense is in physician offices where patient billing statements are concerned. And yet, physicians are not embracing this concept either.
“According to several reports, 70% of people would prefer to receive things electronically rather than sent through the mail,” says Tom Furr, CEO of PatientPay. “And according to the U.S. Postal Service, 60% of bills are paid online.”
Still, according to Furr, 98% of healthcare providers send out paper bills.
Dollars and Sense
Furr explains that despite consumer preference for paying bills online, healthcare has been slow to adapt to the change.
“It’s a good user experience,” he says. “But more importantly, practice groups that are constantly trying to find ways to get more bang for the buck could be saving more money.”
According to Furr, PatientPay Paperless saves a provider up to $4 per statement, thus enhancing profit margins considerably. And considering it takes an average of 3.4 paper statements before people pay, according to the Medical Group Management Association, the dollar savings can add up quickly.
“Providers using a paperless solution receive payments in less than 14 days on average,” Furr says. “That’s a marked difference from the payment cycle of 120 days typically seen with paper bills.”
Another financial consideration is that in years gone by, practices could depend on about 90% of their revenue coming to them like clockwork from insurance companies. But that’s not happening any more. Today, thr obligation that was 10% of their revenue is now 50%.
“You’re spending money sending bills and not getting paid in a timely fashion,” Furr says.
There are other residual benefits as well, Furr says, and it starts with an improved patient experience.
“What we find is about 25% of our payments are made with mobile devices,” he explains. “You can’t do that if you get a paper statement sent to you. The reason [patients] do it that way is that’s what they live off of. People are very comfortable making payments with their phone. And if you don’t give them the option to do that, what kind of experience is that?”
Furr is so certain of paperless billing’s benefits that he recently put $10,000 on the line through the $10,000 Healthcare Billing Challenge. Any licensed healthcare provider, whether a large group, a multi-location hospital system, or an independent practitioner could enter. To win the $10,000, entrants need to use PatientPay Paperless for 60 days, after which time per statement cost and average payment cycle achieved will be compared against submitted verified evidence of paper billing performance. If paper billing wins out, the entrant wins the prize.
The challenge was slated to run until March 31, but has been extended until June 30. Why?
“No one has received my $10,000 check yet,” Furr says. “It drives me crazy that we have to explain to people that by eliminating paper, one, it saves you money. But two, it’s a better patient experience.”
Furr adds that he’s happy with the results of the challenge thus far, but that, “It’s only good participation when I have 100% of the doctors out there challenge me on this. And we haven’t gotten 100% yet, so we have a lot of work to do.”
Ease of Integration
Furr said his firm designed the training component of PatientPay Paperless to be intuitive and user friendly. “Success teams” work with providers and their staff to address any questions or concerns so that they can be more productive. And the “secret sauce” is that PatientPay leverages the whole claim infrastructure in the way that practices get paid from insurance plans.
“We don’t disrupt the workflow at all,” Furr says. “And we add value to the patient because when we send the bill out that’s based on the claim data, it matches it up line for line to the EOB. We think that’s why we’re so successful.”
Furr points to a CitiBank survey where 71% of respondents said that if their bill matched their Explanation of Benefits they would pay it every time.
“And because it’s Cloud, there’s no losing time to have IT come in,” he adds. “You can be up and running with a few clicks of the mouse.”