As Erin L. Arnold, MD, partner, Orthopaedics and Rheumatology of the North Shore, in Skokie, Ill, observed patients’ health insurance deductibles and copays getting dramatically higher and higher, she decided that it was time to explore a program that would require patients to keep a credit card on file.
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Explore This IssueMarch 2017
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“As a private practice and small business, cash flow is something we always paid close attention to,” she says. “This was especially the case at the beginning of the year, when a lot of patients had to pay down deductibles—which really impacted our revenue.”
Choosing EasyPay as a credit card merchant was an easy decision: The third-party program was already integrated into the practice’s electronic medical record (EMR) system—Aprima.
“When a staff member swipes a credit card, it automatically processes the payment through EasyPay,” explains Amy Rogers, MBA, CMPE, office manager for Orthopaedics & Rheumatology of the North Shore. “They don’t have to go to a different website, [because] the programs interface automatically. And there’s no additional charge to use EasyPay.”
Getting Staff & Patients on Board
For Dr. Arnold, the biggest challenge with implementing the EasyPay system was not training staff to use it. In fact, no training was required. Rather, getting staff to understand why the practice adopted the new system was the most difficult task.
“In order for a change to be successful, you must ensure that all staff are on the same page,” Dr. Arnold says. “Because staff would be responsible for asking patients to put a credit card on file, I explained that I was the person who was requiring it and why I was doing it. I told staff that I was here to support them if they encountered any resistance from patients.”
In fall 2015, the practice started posting notices at the front desk and checkout counter stating that it would require every patient to have a credit card on file beginning Jan. 1.
Then, at the start of 2016, staff asked existing patients for their credit card information in person when checking out and asked new patients for this information when scheduling an appointment. Dr. Arnold encouraged staff to tell patients that the physicians had implemented the new requirement. New patients were also told that if they didn’t cancel an appointment within a timely fashion, that they would be charged for that visit on their credit card. If a new patient wasn’t comfortable supplying a credit card, then they couldn’t schedule an appointment.