Pre-payment by Card

In March 2015 a story hit the financial pages of the press which had repercussions for virtually every business. That story related to an EU vote to cap card transaction fees for all debit and credit card payments made across the EU zone.

The idea behind the cap was that it would remove anomalies in the charging system, reduce costs for businesses and therefore reduce prices for consumers. The vote followed agreement from the individual governments within the EU with the new charging matrix expected to come into force from October this year.

However there are exceptions to the cap including business cards and some single bank cards and concerns have been raised about whether the changes might lead to the abolition of rewards cards and therefore restrict the card market.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain and that is that card payments can make a measurable difference to the smooth running of businesses. In one fell swoop the entire draw up invoice, post it out, receive cheque back in the post, fill in paying in book, take it to the bank and wait for clearance cycle is eliminated. So not only do card payments save on administration time, they also considerably speed up the receipt of cleared funds.

As a result if a health practitioner for example such as a physiotherapist or osteopath is looking to optimise cash flow then taking card payment details at the time of booking is a simple way to ensure prompt payment. By way of an added benefit, if the practitioner advertises a no-show fee then simply by having card details to hand, a payment can be taken in line with advertised practice even if the client fails to show up (via pre-payment).

Interestingly, the existence of a no-show fee helps to boost appointment attendances with clients more likely to attend appointments if they will be faced with some form of payment in any event.  Add in SMS text reminders and the attendance rate rises still further.  This leads to a more consistently full appointment book meaning that health practitioners are more able to spend their time in treating patients rather than chasing no-shows or carrying out wasted administration processes. Best of all, these practices help to ensure that in event of a patient being unable to attend the appointment they are far more likely to get in touch well in advance, meaning that the vacated slot can still be productively filled by treating another patient.

Secure card processing is just one way in which health practitioners can leverage technological advances to help their business. Other options available include online booking services and the electronic storage of patient records. Although access to records is restricted to protect the privacy of patients, a health practitioner can quickly call up charts, notes and scan details at the touch of a button. When story after story in the press talks about the pressure on the health service and when that pressure extends to private health practices, anything which practitioners can do to cut down on manual processes can be a bonus.