JPMorgan Sees Healthcare Focus on Digital Key to Improving Patient Care – PYMNTS.com

Labor shortages in the healthcare industry are an especially painful problem needing attention — stat.
Still considered to be lagging in the digital shift, healthcare practices are alleviating some of their staffing issues by using automation and digital payment solutions at key points, including discussing treatment and payment early in the process.
“In healthcare, unlike other industries, payments conversations happen too late,” Elmahdi Erraji, head of product development at InstaMed, a J.P. Morgan company, told PYMNTS.
Noting that healthcare is still heavily reliant on paper-based processes that confound consumers, Erraji said, “When you add labor shortages, it’s only making the problem worse,” whereas “when you engage patients digitally, early and often throughout the healthcare visit life cycle, it increases the patient’s likelihood of paying and reduces the burden on the administrative staff.”
For InstaMed, that means providing consumer engagement “that aims to optimize the consumer experience,” he said. “You do so by supporting multiple communication channels that nudge consumers and inform them throughout their payment journey.”
A digital-first approach remedies some of the issues of inefficiencies and staff shortages by limiting paper statements, accelerating information exchange between providers and patients, and supporting convenient payment options that make the burden easier all around.
“By meeting the patients where they are and offering them convenience and choice, we are able to eliminate barriers that would otherwise have resulted in a phone call or an in-person visit to the provider’s office,” he said. “I think, in general, the more digital financial touch points an organization can offer its patients, the more efficiently the organization can operate.”
See also: JPMorgan Chase Launches in-House Healthcare Company, Morgan Health
Optimizing Every Touch Point
Moving digital payments further upstream in the patient journey goes a long way toward easing financial considerations and the strain on overwhelmed personnel.
“There is no doubt payment integration significantly reduces or decreases the manual steps,” Erraji said. “In essence, it allows organizations to focus on doing what they do best, which is providing the best service for the consumers.”
An important step in accomplishing this can be consolidating payment vendors, seeking those “that have broad integration into the appropriate healthcare [independent software vendors (ISVs)] across multiple channels,” with deep integrations with appropriate electronic medical records (EMRs).
Part of this is the contextual matter of meeting consumers where they are in an omnichannel fashion.
“You’ve got to look at the full payments journey that the consumer goes through,” he said. “It starts by making a phone call to schedule the patient visit. That’s a touch point. That’s an opportunity to engage with the consumer.”
Likewise, when the consumer makes their copay, that’s another touch-point opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. It’s these points where practices can improve the patient experience, collect payments or make other arrangements, with digital systems allowing for greater flexibility.
“Different consumers like to interact differently,” Erraji said. “If they want to pay via phone, then you meet them there. If they want to pay via the website, you meet them there. If they want to pay via text-to-pay, you meet them there. If they want to use Apple Pay or Google Wallet, you enable that option.”
Read also: NextGen Healthcare Expands InstaMed Partnership
Unified Experience Is the New Gold Standard
Some practices may be concerned about consolidating so much of the patient payment journey to a single system, yet it tends to create the kind of seamlessness that healthcare is seeking.
“Having one vendor in charge of the payments processes, from a consumer standpoint, is a unified experience,” Erraji said. “Throughout that journey, the consumer has one experience which results in higher consumer engagements.”
From the provider’s viewpoint, he said efficiency is perhaps the topmost gain, along with the benefits of streamlined payment posting and the “ability to provide better automation throughout the journey.”
Transaction and data security are also improved, he said, adding that “when you have one partner for the entire payment process, it means faster innovation, as well as compliance with the new industry regulations.”
Acknowledging that levels of interaction and need differ by specialty, such as vision or dentistry, Erraji said much of the friction — and frustration — for providers and patients is taken out of the equation with digital solutions.
“There is a need to have simplified solutions for recurring engagements based on the nature of those specialties,” he said. “They benefit from capabilities like digital wallets. We find that also in physical therapy. It’s another specialty that has recurring engagement, and solutions like digital wallets can simplify that experience.”
PYMNTS Data: Why Consumers Are Trying Digital Wallets
A PYMNTS study, “New Payments Options: Why Consumers Are Trying Digital Wallets” finds that 52% of US consumers tried out a new payment method in 2022, with many choosing to give digital wallets a try for the first time.
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