You’ve invested a lot of time and money to create and maintain a safe, hygienic environment for your patients. But do your efforts extend all the way through the payment collection process? Modern practices need to provide their patients with a touch free, more hygienic way to pay. They need a contactless payment system.
The question then becomes how do practices integrate such a system in their daily business. This article outlines the how of enabling a contactless payment system, helping to benefit both your practice and your patients.
Realities of the Digital Age
Even before the pandemic, consumers were embracing the convenience of contactless payments. This includes:
Near Field Communication (NFC) Cards – All the major card brands now offer credit and debit cards that can be used just by tapping the card on the contactless terminal.
Apple Pay – Apple’s proprietary payment method is built into all its iPhones starting with iPhone 6.
Android Pay – Android Pay is the contactless payment method found on many of their newer devices.
Samsung Pay – Samsung’s version of contactless payments can be found on newer versions of Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Smartwatches – Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, FitBit and others all have built-in NFC and mobile wallet technology that allow for contactless payments.
The health crisis is only accelerating the trend. So much so, that contactless payment capabilities are likely soon to be the expectation. The reality of the age in which we live is that it is risky for practices to disregard this expectation. Patients may perceive you as unprofessional or even worse, unhygienic.
The standards that practices need to keep to in order to prevent the spread of bacteria are quite high. Reducing the need for office staff to come in close contact with patients or things they’ve touched cuts the risk of spread at a physical location. As a result, a contactless payment system can make patients and staff feel safer, all while making the payment process easier.
There are a few ways to set up contactless payments for your practice:
Credit Card Terminal Upgrades
When you hear the words contactless payments, it’s only logical to think about hardware. After all, not all credit card terminals are equipped with NFC technology. You can wave a credit card or mobile phone in front of some older models all day long, and nothing will happen.
If you’re not sure of the capabilities of your terminals, contact your credit card processor. They’ll be able to tell you what you have and hook you up with what you need.
Bear in mind, there is an investment required to upgrade your hardware to NFC-enabled. Some terminals start at around $300 each. But, this is a minimal investment when you consider the benefits of a contactless enabled terminal. These include:
- Speed: Waving a mobile phone or credit card over the terminal is quicker than the traditional dip process
- Improved Security: The built-in NFC technology authenticates the payment and encrypts the data making it even more secure than the traditional mag strip swipe
- Hygienic – no touch required: Your patients won’t need to touch the terminal at all. They simply wave or tap then go.
Upgraded hardware is necessary for contactless payments in your office. However, there also are other ways of supporting contactless payments that you may not be thinking about.
1. Recurring Payments
No doubt you prefer that your patients pay their portion upfront and in-full. But the reality is that many patients can’t do that and will need to make monthly payments.
Sending out statements on a regular basis is pretty common, but what if you didn’t have to do that? What if you could allow your patients to “set it” and “forget it?” That is, your patients create their first payment, then the balance gets paid automatically in recurring installments. These auto-payments can be made via credit card or electronic check. This makes it ultra-convenient for you and your patients. Plus, it reduces the likelihood of missed or late payments.
2. Electronic Checks / ACH Payments
We all know what credit cards are but an electronic check or Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment is one where payment is made directly from a bank account. ACH transfers are commonplace (such as when paychecks are set up to direct deposit) yet their utility is often overlooked by many practices.
There are a couple of reasons to consider enabling ACH payments in your practice.
- It gives your patients another payment option. This is important for those who do not have a credit card or do not wish to use one to make payments.
- ACH payments are less expensive to process than credit card payments. This is an important point even if your practice surcharges your patients for using a credit card. Paying by ACH means you can eliminate that surcharge.
Related article: Why ACH Payments Should be Added to Integrated Payment Systems
3. Integrated Payments
The last contactless payment method I wanted to discuss is integrated payments. Many practices have integrated payment systems are built into many software platforms used by practices. For example, patient portals or automated email reminders can allow your patients to pay their portion even before they arrive for their appointment.
Payments can be made via credit card through an integrated payment system. Some integrated payment systems also enable ACH payments, which is advised. This serves up a contactless and convenient way for patients to pay. An added bonus is that it can boost the amount and speed at which you collect funds that are owed.
Quality integrated payment systems can:
- Improve the cash flow of your practice
- Expedite the patient check-out process
- Reduce the number of patients waiting to check-out in your waiting room
- Free-up front staff time spent collecting payments, printing receipts, and wiping down terminals
How ISOs Can Help
The above may sound interesting but admittedly, much of it requires payment expertise to get it rolling. This is where independent sales organizations (ISOs) or full-service merchant services partners (MSP) can be of service.
ISOs and MSPs can help businesses set themselves up for different types of payment systems. If you are considering a contactless payment system for your practice, you will likely need the service of one such company.
Wind River is an ISO that provides full-service merchant services. We specialize in integrated payments for software companies and payment processing for businesses and practices of all sizes.
If you’re considering a contactless payment system for your practice, you probably have lots of questions. Please feel free to contact us. We’re always happy to help.