Electronic health records and patient portals have revolutionized healthcare with many improvements both for patient care and customer service. Each one of these systems is powerful on its own, and the potential benefits increase when these functions are integrated. Such benefits include:
It is essential that patients be able to trust their healthcare organizations to protect their sensitive personal health and financial data. It is a privilege to be entrusted with this data, and it’s also a large responsibility. Patients value knowing their information is secure. In fact, consumer behavior shows patients consider data security during healthcare transactions. Data security should be a key value for healthcare organizations. When the software for the EHR and payments are integrated, a number of security risks are eliminated. The level of exposure is reduced by eliminating redundant systems and incidents of data collection, and users have one less account to track and keep secure. Integrated software makes maintenance and security patching and upgrades easier, as well.
Sixty-eight percent of healthcare consumers prefer making payments online, and consumers increasingly expect to be able to conduct business in all areas of life with a few taps on a smartphone. Online bill pay functions benefit the healthcare organization by reducing staff hours processing paper statements and payments. By uniting the EHR and payment processing software together, patients have more incentive for engagement with the ease of popping in to view lab results and then knocking out a balance while they’re at it. The converse is also true, with steering patients toward an integrated system for bill pay being an opportunity to drive EHR traffic in order to meet Meaningful Use criteria.
Like all consumers, healthcare consumers want convenience without a lot of hassle. Integrated EHR and payment software systems provide innumerable opportunities to improve the patient experience. For example, when systems are streamlined they can be more easily be applied across different devices. When patients have more access to traditional functions from their own devices, the benefit can go beyond convenience. One simple yet practical example is of improved outcomes is that patients who spend less time in a waiting area have reduced exposure to the pathogens from other patients in the area. There are many ways to leverage technology to reduce patient time in a waiting area, and one such way is by moving transactions, from filling out forms to scheduling to bill pay, out of that waiting area.
From an administration perspective, combining EHRs with payment processing makes a lot of sense. There are potential cost savings, plus the reduced hassle of dealing with multiple vendors. Money can be saved in reduced time spent training staff and troubleshooting syncing issues with multiple systems.
The low-hanging fruit of process improvement is to improve efficiency by eliminating redundancy. Combining EHRs with patient portals has the potential to improve business and customer service at the same time.