It's clear that paperless billing offers a dramatic improvement to the revenue cycle management for most healthcare organizations. Leading sources, such as HFMA, point out that the increase in patient responsibility for their own healthcare costs means that there needs to be a dramatic shift in the strategy for patient collection. Accounting for a much higher percentage of the organization's yearly revenue, the traditional model for billing individual patients is no longer adequate to offer sustainability.
Surprisingly, the trend toward higher deductibles and increased patient payment responsibility has had little impact on the healthcare industry's transition to paperless billing or at least far less impact than would be advisable. According to Bloomberg, the healthcare industry lags dramatically behind its consumer business counterparts in adopting paperless and eBilling. In fact, Bank News cites that only 10% of medical bills are delivered electronically, while only 8% of hospital bills are paperless.
Why Paperless Billing Is the Future for Healthcare
There are a number of reasons that online technology offers a better solution for healthcare in particular. If your organization is not looking at ways to streamline these functions, it's likely that your revenue cycle management strategy is less productive than it needs to be. While some organizations have put off changing their billing practices, here are a few reasons to upgrade in the near future:
- Patient Convenience. Many patients currently pay most or all of their bills online or by phone. A lot of them may not write checks at all anymore. Offering a paperless billing option means that they'll have a quick and easy way to pay via their preferred method.
- Improved Patient Payment. Patients are often later in paying bills by mail than they are when they can pay electronically. In many cases it's just that they put off the task of writing out the check and mailing it back. Offering an easy way to keep up with their account balance and pay immediately improves your payment time.
- Less Expense. Upgrading to an electronic system may be an investment but it also eliminates the cost of mailing out statements on a regular basis. That cost includes paper, printing, postage, and man hours - which can add up to a great deal of investment over the course of a year.
- Improved Analytics. Your electronic payment system offers more than a convenient way to bill patients. Your organization will also be able to use the analytics involved to better project your profits and predict patient payment to individualize your approach by having immediate access to overall payment history. There are a number of analytical tools which can help streamline your revenue cycle for improved performance.
In some cases, organizations put off transitioning to electronic formats because they believe that older patients won't like the change. There is always the option of asking patients their preference and mailing out statements to certain patients while you transition.
Paperless billing is only one piece of the puzzle for improvement in your healthcare organization. With increased regulatory changes and new coding demands, your EHR needs to offer your personnel the best methods of having up to date and real time information on each case and patient. While healthcare as an industry took a great deal of time in embracing the advances of technology, the benefits of instant access to accurate information far outweighs any loyalty to the older method of paper files.