Medical billing is under attack. In just a few months, the coronavirus has changed the entire world, and most definitely our healthcare system. This unpredictable virus has provided little clarity, and driven nonessential visits to hospitals and providers, much like the economy, into a free fall.
According to a report by HealthLandscape and American Academy of Family Physicians, an estimated 60,000 family practices will close their doors or substantially scale back if the reduction in business continues into June. A medical biller’s revenue is directly correlated to the revenue of their practices. As practices close their doors and reduce the hours of their medical staff, a medical biller will find it harder to drive top-line revenue. But – it’s not impossible. As recently uncovered, practices need billers more than ever right now.
Digital adoption is rising while stuck at home.
There is no arguing that the pandemic has changed – and continues to change – the traditional business dynamic. Businesses that adapt to this new dynamic are realizing gains in areas they never would have uncovered before the pandemic. D’Artagnan, a meat and poultry supplier to restaurants, pivoted to selling directly to consumers after its business dropped 80%. This has allowed the company to keep all of its employees and realize a 700% increase in demand from customers ordering directly from its website. Self-service laundromats are launching mobile app payment systems because customers don’t want to use cash or cards – leading to an increase in business at a time when most other businesses are struggling. People are buying – and paying- for most items online from retailers such as Amazon, Peapod, and Instacart; Amazon itself has seen a 35% increase in consumer spending compared with the same period last year.
During this pandemic, people in certain regions are doing whatever they can to not be exposed to the virus. A trip to the post office to buy stamps or a drive to their doctor’s office to pay a bill is the last thing on their mind. (Some people aren’t even willing to open their own mailbox without gloves and a mask for fear they may be exposed to the virus).
Traditional barriers to digital adoption are crumbling under the desire to maintain a semblance of normalcy while at home. The world is relying on digital communication more than ever before. We recognize this firsthand, as Inbox Health has seen a rise in the percentage of digital payments in the last three weeks, especially among demographic groups that traditionally pay bills by paper.
Targeting patient engagement through paper and traditional portals is only going to increase a medical biller’s costs during a time when people are spending more time in front of their computers and less time than ever in contexts receptive to traditional payment methods. People are stuck at home and spending more time online. Billers need to capitalize on it now in order to capture AR for their practices, and for their own survival.
It’s time for medical billers to give patients what they want – and need.
Medical billers need to provide patients with convenient and easy-to-use digital payment options. By providing patients with digital ways to pay, billers will be able to engage patients in their bills resulting in reduced confusion for patients and increased collections for billers. By making it easy to get answers to questions and pay while at home, medical billers can keep patients paying without a trip to their mailbox or local post office.
Medical billers should take immediate action to compensate for the loss of revenue from medical practices and patients. It is essential for medical billers to recognize what needs to change in their business and how to tackle this change. The world is running on digital communication to keep ourselves and each other safe from COVID-19.The last thing anyone is going to break a mandated shelter-in-place order for is to pay a bill. Medical billers that provide the patients with the path of least resistance to paying their bills will have a much stronger rebound on the other side of this pandemic. The businesses that keep their normal cadences will be sending bills to more ‘quarantined mailboxes.’