The Digital Shift is Now: Contactless Patient Payments in the Era of COVID-19
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold, it is sending shockwaves throughout society and within every industry. Everything that was once familiar seems to be changing at lightning speed, and tomorrow seems to be more uncertain than ever.
What has become very clear: the economic and human impact of this virus is (and will be) substantial. It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort to protect lives and livelihoods. Healthcare systems are scrambling to manage unprecedented patient care demands and disruptions. Governments and other organizations are stepping up to provide economic relief and access to life-sustaining goods and services.
We are all witnessing a swift and dramatic shift to what many are calling the “new normal.” Going contactless is suddenly in vogue. From curbside food pick-up to virtual meetings to cashless transactions, the virus has not only changed how we interact with one another but also our perception of what it means to be safe.
What will define the new normal in healthcare? Healthcare systems will augment how they engage with patients across the care spectrum, and a wider adoption of digital technology will make it possible. Providers have already embraced telemedicine services as a way to safely meet certain clinical needs. When it comes to financial engagement, contactless payments will also become an integral part of the patient journey.
Safeguarding Patient Health and Safety
Healthcare institutions are turning to alternative ways to provide services while limiting exposure to the coronavirus. One example is the rapid expansion of digital care delivery through telehealth and remote monitoring. Before the pandemic, only one in ten Americans had ever used telehealth services. Since the surge of infections in the U.S., the federal government has taken steps to expand the use of telemedicine while several medical associations have released guidelines. As a result, there has been an estimated ten-fold increase in virtual health consultations.
On the financial side, ‘safety and security’ are taking on a whole new meaning. The risk of virus transmission by touching a contaminated surface and the need to adhere to social distancing are accelerating demand for contactless and digital payment solutions. A survey conducted towards the end of March found that 30 percent of consumers had started using contactless payment methods to avoid virus exposure.
Digital payment transactions will likely become the norm in healthcare as an outcome of the unprecedented spread of COVID-19. For patient payments collected at the point of care, contactless technology eliminates physical interaction while offering quick transaction speed and extra layers of security. Access to digital payment options offers patients greater ease, flexibility, and convenience which further enhances their financial experience.
Protecting the Financial Health of Providers
Healthcare providers and organizations are facing multiple challenges to their financial stability in the face of COVID-19. Revenue has plummeted due to canceled elective procedures. At the same time, many hospitals are seeing increased costs as they shore up protective supplies and equipment and pay overtime to clinical staff. Patients are putting off routine medical care out of fear of exposure or because of the loss of a job and health insurance coverage. Then there is the increased possibility that consumers may delay or default on payments due to reduced cash flow.
As this health crisis deepens, the top priority for all healthcare organizations is to ensure the safety and care of patients and their employees. It is also imperative to take steps to protect revenue cycle operations and limit any economic fallout so they can continue to serve their patients and employees. This will fuel the adoption of digital and mobile financial engagement solutions. Making this shift will enable providers to maximize patient payment collections, improve cash flow, and increase efficiency while helping patients safely navigate their financial obligations.
Meeting Patients Where They Are
While no one can accurately predict what the new normal will look like in a post-pandemic world, there is little doubt that the impact on the behavior and expectations of healthcare consumers and providers will be profound. This unprecedented crisis has opened the door to transformative opportunities to improve healthcare. It also will have forged a new trajectory for a digitally integrated patient journey. Hopefully, healthcare systems will be equipped with a payment ecosystem that meets patients where they are — promoting engagement, offering peace of mind, and creating an environment of transparency and trust.