South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday April 14, 2021

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August 2009 - Volume 6 - Issue 2


Utilizing Consumer Friendly Payment Applications (And Other Oxymorons)

I have been a fan of the oxymoron for many years, and would have to laugh at some of the words the late George Carlin would talk about. You may remember his discovery about Jumbo Shrimp or Silent Alarms. I sometimes look for these during my everyday routine, and had to marvel about the Fifty Ounce Pound Cake that an organization was making.

When it comes to Consumer Friendly Payments though, some would think that this would be another to add to the list; but I would gently disagree.

With consumer responsibilities such as co-pays, co-insurance, HSAs and self pays growing rapidly, and more uninsured and under insured in need of services, having new and different means to ensure collecting significant levels of payments from patients has become critical to the health and sustainability of the healthcare organizations of today. As a result, it is not enough to just include the same payment methods that your organization may have been using for many years.

When I had become the MasterCard Healthcare, Insurance and Charities Industries Manager (no oxymoron snickering, please) starting in the mid 1990s, I was surprised at the low card acceptance rates prevalent in healthcare. The hospitals and physicians of today understand the importance of having good, efficient solutions to collect at the front desk and post adjudication. This has led to an overall card acceptance, calculated by individual physician, in the mid 80%, and 90s for hospitals on a corporate basis.

Organizations must now build on that, and look outside the box and use additional access points and solutions to provide the flexibility and value based technology necessary to meet the Healthcare Banking that the new consumer wants, through the technology they are becoming accustomed to.

With the internet and mobile phones being used by even low salary demographic consumers, organizations can provide online (and IVR) bill payment access portals, where consumers or guarantors can securely sign on, see the information which the organization determines is appropriate (statements, previous payments, etc.), and automatically take in electronic and term payments while updating their patient management systems and collection services.

Other opportunities for organizations to make available include easy acceptance low cost nonrecourse financing for the patients to access online, transfers of small dollars to patient landline and mobile phone bills in order to increase net collections, as well as patient responsibility estimators, automated preauthorization payment solutions and remote deposit capture.

The bottom line is that flexibility and availability of appropriate new options will assist the 21st Century healthcare provider to meet the new challenges they are seeing in the current and future market.

Michael Fontana is CEO of HCMA Consulting and former MasterCard Worldwide Healthcare Industry Manager, and Controller/Hospital Receivables Credit Vice President for the JPM Chase Healthcare and Insurance Division. For more information about HCMA Consulting, visit or call (561) 483-7754.
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