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Interoperability: How Can Healthcare Achieve it?

Chris Seib is the chief technology officer and co-founder of InstaMed, a healthcare payment network used by payers, providers, and consumers. Before founding InstaMed, he was an executive in Accenture's Health and Life Sciences practice. He been involved in strategic development efforts regarding government health initiatives, consumer-directed health plans, and direct connectivity between providers and payers. He is a named inventor of multiple patents and patent applications held by InstaMed.
Last month, I wrote about a new approach to interoperability that focused on the administrative side of healthcare. Now, I want to take a closer look at the strategies to effectively implement this change at your organization and ultimately achieve interoperability.

Over the last few years, increases in consumer responsibility and federal regulations and incentive programs have led healthcare organizations to invest in software and technologies in an attempt to scale the growing healthcare economy. As a result, many organizations use multiple systems for billing, payments, patient, or member records. Integration connects all these systems to automatically share data.

For successful interoperability, healthcare organizations must implement a trusted solution with a flexible, rich application program interface (API) that allows for simple and seamless integration across systems. Integrating heterogeneous systems in the healthcare payments process represents enormous potential that remains largely untapped in the industry. To realize the full potential, healthcare organizations need to integrate payment 2 ways: into technology and into processes.

Step 1: Embed Payment Functionality into Existing Systems

Integration connects an organization’s systems to automatically share data. Use an integrated payment solution to embed payment functionality within existing internal-facing and consumer-facing systems to create a seamless flow of information across all systems.

For internal-facing systems, embedded payment functionality allows payment information to automatically populate into the system, minimizing staff overhead and creating greater efficiency. There is no need for manual steps, no room for error, and faster access to the most recent payment information. Additionally, this simplifies the training process for staff, as there is little to no impact on existing workflow.

For consumers, embed payment functionality directly into your website or patient portal to integrate payment where consumers already interact with your organization. This way, the organization improves consumer satisfaction by adding payments while maintaining a consistent patient experience.

Step 2: Incorporate Omnichannel Payments into Processes

A successfully integrated payment solution will touch every system and interaction point that exists in current workflow, opening up new channels to collect consumer payments. This creates an omnichannel payment experience that makes payment and related information more accessible to consumers, which increases the likelihood that they will pay.

Consider this: the average consumer has 150-200 mobile moments a day (Forrester Research). If you offer your consumers a mobile experience and integrate payment functionality, it is more likely than not that they will use it. In fact, data from the InstaMed platform shows that payments from a mobile device expanded to 20% of all online payments in 2016.

To maximize omnichannel payments, incorporate them into your existing processes. To do this, educate staff about new payment channels so they can effectively communicate these options to patients. With an omnichannel approach, you should teach staff to have the flexibility to collect patient payments at any time. This delivers a better experience for consumers by offering more convenient ways to pay and creates greater opportunity to collect more payments efficiently and without significant overhead.

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