card or call the business office to give payment
card information over the phone. In both scenarios, a staff member was required to process
that payment by manually keying in the information to the host system. As more and more
families owed a balance, manually processing
payments was simply not a scalable way to run
Additionally, KPA staff noticed that these
payment processes weren’t working for families, either. Families often had to be reminded
they owed a balance when they came in for an
appointment, even though they were sent a
paper statement notifying them of the balance.
When families did call in to make a payment, it
was usually a few weeks after the statement
had been sent out. Sometimes, during the call to
make a payment, the parent or guarantor on the
phone sounded rushed or had to put KPA staff
on hold as their children needed their attention.
A New Way to Pay
KPA decided to work with a payments vendor
that would allow families to manage payments
in a way that was most convenient for them—an
online payment portal. This new way to make
a payment was promoted via a URL printed
directly on the paper statements that KPA sent
out. If a parent or guarantor called in to make
a payment, staff would simply explain how to
make the payment online for the next balance.
KPA even added a link to the online payments
from their electronic health record’s (EHR’s)
patient portal so that families can access and
manage payments while on the portal.
Online payments were made available to
families in 2014 and quickly became the preferred method for many parents and guarantors
to pay their balances. If a family comes in and
learns from staff that they have an unpaid
balance, they can just grab their smartphones
and make a payment via the online portal right
then and there. The online payment portal also
allows families to manage payments for multiple
children in one place without having to create a
separate account for each of their children.
Now, KPA receives half of all credit card payments via the online portal with a growing amount
made directly from a mobile device such as a
smartphone. This means that payments are automatically received without any staff intervention
or follow-up, saving KPA valuable resources that
are better spent working directly with patients.
KPA is committed to a completely electronic
healthcare payments process for their organization, as proved by the high adoption of
online payments among its patients. The commitment also extends to adoption of electronic
payer payment transactions that has reached
95% of all payments through this channel,
with many being received within one week of
filing an electronic claim—far exceeding the
industry average of 60% as reported in the
2017 Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare
Jackie Keeble is health information manager at Knoxville Pediatric Associates, P.C.
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