Digital Disbursements: A Direct Line to Greater Patient Engagement & Satisfaction

Healthcare Insight

In the world of healthcare, delivering an essential service does not leave providers immune to the financial realities and payment expectations of the patients they serve. With digitization transforming everything from eCommerce to utility billing, patients now have higher expectations for simplicity, convenience and flexibility in how they pay their bills and receive disbursements (i.e., credit balance patient refunds).

For healthcare providers, meeting these expectations relies on a commitment to modernizing the full billing and payment experience. But, as many healthcare providers have found, this is not a simple task. Some 42% of providers say they aren’t satisfied with their current patient payment platform. 

An inefficient payment platform can impact business processes and patient loyalty, particularly if that platform is ill equipped to offer patients timely refunds.

Patients Expect Speed and Convenience

Today’s payment world is faster and more flexible than ever before. In a matter of moments and using only their phone, consumers can receive and pay a utility bill, purchase lunch and receive a text saying their auto insurance bill is due. And if there’s a choice between billers that offer these digital capabilities and those that do not, the consumer will often choose the more digitized option.

This is the backdrop against which healthcare providers must now work if they are to retain patients. Particularly at a time when younger, more digitally-savvy consumers are accounting for a larger percentage of the patient pool, legacy billing and payment platforms simply can’t keep pace with modern expectations.

If providers are unable to meet today’s payment expectations or ask them to wait days or weeks for refunds, these patients will find a provider who can deliver greater speed and convenience.

The Benefits of Digital Disbursements

Patient Engagement & Satisfaction

The primary benefit of digital disbursements revolves around patient loyalty. Much like the payment experience itself, patients expect a disbursement experience that is both fast and in line with their digital payment preferences. If they can deliver on this, providers will ensure more satisfied patients who will remain loyal to their practice.

Accomplishing this means delivering credit balance patient refunds through channels beyond physical checks and ACH, such as digital wallets. In addition to being expensive, physical checks present many drawbacks for providers and patients alike: they’re slower, at risk of being lost in the mail and expose both parties to check fraud. Digital disbursements remove these drawbacks and instead offer a faster way to send money directly to where patients prefer.

The billing and payments experience, which includes credit balance patient refunds, is one of the last impressions a provider has with a patient. Providers that rely on physical checks also risk looking dated to potential patients, many of whom are used to highly digitized experiences. Younger patients, in particular, will be more likely to refer their peers to practices that are able to accelerate the delivery of patient refunds through digitized channels.

On-Time Healthcare Payments

Faster disbursements are an avenue for more on-time payments. If patients believe they will receive credit balance patient refunds in a timely manner, they will prioritize paying their bill. A negative experience may find patients shying away from paying until they absolutely have to.

Optimized Internal Processes

Staffing shortages and employee turnover continue to be a source of disruption within the healthcare industry. With providers being asked to do more with less, manual disbursements add further strain on internal resources — inviting human errors, delays and employee burnout. This can also leave healthcare providers vulnerable should a staff member charged with processing disbursements decide to leave.

Digitized disbursements help overcome manual labor issues associated with offering refunds and work to prevent employee burnout. A key benefit of a digitized experience is that even while short staffed, providers can still provide timely refunds to patients. This also removes the dependency on particular employees to process and send refunds. Providers no longer need be reliant or at risk of service interruptions and delays should a staff member leave.

Greater Visibility

A final element for providers to consider is the visibility offered by digital processes. Physical checks are harder to track and report on. Patients and providers may be unaware of their location or even delivery date. This also necessitates manual processes in terms of reporting and reconciliation, which can invite human error.

Digitizing this process removes these challenges and inefficiencies. Automated notifications and tracking give both the patient and provider greater visibility of the entire ecosystem. This removes the guesswork and manual issues associated with physical checks and replaces them with accurate and timely information all parties can rely on.

Building a Comprehensive Digital Billing and Payment Platform

With so much at stake, healthcare providers must work to optimize every element of the patient billing and payment lifecycle. While disbursements are a large part of this, they’re just one of many digital shifts that can help increase patient payment satisfaction, improve staff efficiencies and accelerate the revenue cycle.

Watch our latest on-demand webinar for more information on digital disbursements and how Paymentus can modernize your capabilities. Ready to enter Modernization Mode? See why more billers are switching to our award-winning platform.