Streamlining payments

The days of making manual payments are numbered if a report by Juniper Research is anything to go by. According to the report’s press release the number of household bill payments made via PC, mobile or tablet is expected to top 20 billion this year (2014) with the UK having 16% of the global market.

Driven by Generation Y users, the growing acceptance of mobile payments is only expected to expand further as fears over security are lessened and additional mobile devices come onto the marketplace. Interestingly, when it comes to larger payments, users still seem to prefer the security of a larger screen with PCs and tablets leading the way.

Whilst this report concentrated on household bills, the acceptance of online payments generally is also on the increase. Shopping or booking events or holidays via the internet is also on the up and this means that consumers are far more accepting of the idea of providing credit card details whilst online. And the more accepting we become, the more that online payments becomes part of the mainstream.

That creates tremendous opportunities for health professionals who are looking to streamline administration and payments.  With a ready acceptance in providing card details; when someone makes an appointment to see a physiotherapist or other health professional the next logical step is for them to confirm the appointment by providing payment card details.

Having an appointment confirmed in this way has two benefits for the health professional.  Firstly, the act of providing card details tends to fix the appointment in the patient’s eyes, making it far more likely that they will turn up for their treatment. This not only helps to ensure a full treatment schedule it also makes it more likely that the patient will receive a full course of treatment at the time when it is most needed. Secondly, with card details to hand, it is simple for the health practice to process payments, either in full once the patient has attended or to take a payment on the card in line with the practice’s stated cancellation policy.

Payment card details can be taken at the time of booking an appointment either online or via the telephone. At that stage the payment amount is simply pre-authorised which means that the payment amount is ‘reserved’ against the card. Once the appointment has taken place, should the patient choose to pay by other means the reservation can simply be cancelled.Otherwise the payment is taken at the time of the appointment; speeding up receipt of funds and saving the invoice/cheque/bank clearance cycle.

With time at a premium, anything which helps to reduce administration and speed up payments is a winner in today’s health practice. Pre-authorisation of cards means no delay in payment collection and no need to spend precious time in sending out and chasing bills on a regular basis. And with pre-authorising reducing no-shows and therefore increasing the likelihood of patients receiving the treatment they need when they need it, pre-authorising is a win-win solution for patient and health practitioner alike.