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Telemedicine and Remote Payment Methods: Which Is Best?

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Telemedicine has been relevant for a long time. However, it has been under the spotlight for the past couple of months because of obvious reasons. The shift to telemedicine has been largely a seamless process as tools such as video conferencing have made it easy for people to access healthcare from the safety and comfort of their homes. There are dozens of tools used to make telemedicine as convenient as possible.

Providing healthcare is a bit more than only diagnosing and treating, and the same goes for telemedicine. There’s a significant amount of clerical work involved. Fortunately, almost all of these can be carried out in a remote setting as well. These clerical tasks include appointment scheduling, payment processing or compensation, data collection, and storing records which all can be done remotely

Telemedicine, HIPAA and Remote Payments

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a regulation that was enacted in 1996. Since going into effect, it has been a hot topic in the healthcare industry. The regulation primarily aims at protecting patient-doctor confidentiality. But as everything is going digital, its relevance has only increased especially since the pandemic has forced nearly all providers to switch to telemedicine.

Like it or not, payments are simply part of the equation when it comes to telemedicine. There’s no point in visiting your doctor online if you’ll eventually have to pay the clinic a visit to finish the paperwork. Instead, patients can schedule their telemedicine appointments online, visit their doctor remotely, get prescribed online, and pay in the same way, all while staying HIPAA compliant.

Remote payments can be accomplished in a number of ways. The most prominent ways to pay remotely include over-the-phone payments, invoicing, and online payments.

Paying over the Phone

Paying over the phone is one of the oldest remote payment methods. However, as old and well-known as it is, oftentimes it’s one of the worst options to pay remotely. Especially for healthcare payments.

Paying over the phone has a higher failure rate because miscommunication can increase friction while paying for services. Most of the time this method requires keying in card information, which is prone to human error and increases PCI audit scope.

Paper Invoicing

Paper invoicing is quite a popular yet inefficient way of collecting payments remotely. Usually, when a payment is due, the business mails an invoice to the patient who then fills it out and in turn mails a payment back to the vendor in the form of a check. While it’s quite popular, it’s slow, inefficient, and the checks can be lost or stolen while in transit.

Online Payments

Online payments are typically fulfilled by a patient online with a credit card. Now, these types of payments are increasingly popular because they are more secure, fast, and efficient compared to other payment methods. Online payments are also the safest remote payment method for healthcare, but we’ll get to that later.

Whenever you purchase something online using your credit card, you’ve completed an online payment. Online payments are usually completed in a couple of minutes. You add the goods or services you’re purchasing to your cart. Then go through a checkout process that redirects you to a secure payment page powered by a Payment Gateway. You enter your payment information, authorize it and you’re done.

Legal and industry regulation as well as strong encryption built into all modern web browsers makes online payments far more secure than other remote payment options. Online payments are typically fulfilled by a patient online with a credit card. Now, these types of payments are increasingly popular because they are more secure, fast, and efficient compared to other payment methods. Online payments are also the safest remote payment method for healthcare, but we’ll get to that later.

Whenever you purchase something online using your credit card, you’ve completed an online payment. Online payments are usually completed in a couple of minutes. You add the goods or services you’re purchasing to your cart. Then go through a checkout process that redirects you to a secure payment page powered by a Payment Gateway. You enter your payment information, authorize it and you’re done.

Legal and industry regulation as well as strong encryption built into all modern web browsers makes online payments far more secure than other remote payment options.

Why Online Payments in Telemedicine?

Aside from the obvious benefits of online payments that we’ve discussed above, there are a couple of other reasons why telemedicine practices should take online payments.

One of the biggest concerns when accepting payments for a telemedicine practice is HIPAA compliance. Due to the nature of collecting payments, the process inevitably involves Patient Health Information (PHI). PHI includes any information that can be used to identify and match a patient with the treatment they have received. Because payments often include at least the name of the patient and sometimes a description of the services rendered, they contain PHI.

Telemedicine practices have to be extra careful when collecting payments because of that and should search for a secure way of collecting payments. The most secure option for this practice is using online Payment Gateways to process payments. The security they provide ensures that the PHI doesn’t leak and lead to a HIPAA violation.

While avoiding HIPAA violations is the main reason to forgo other forms of remote payments, online payments also provide a great deal of flexibility. Online payments can be applied to your practice in different ways.

For example, you can host a Payment Gateway on your website to collect payments before or after your telemedicine visit. You can share the link to the payment page so that the patient can fill it out and complete their payments. However, this might not be the fastest or easiest way to collect payments.

Another way to collect payments is to use telemedicine platforms that have their own payment systems. However, such platforms might be a little too costly for small practices or might fall short for larger healthcare providers.

Alternatively, online forms can be integrated with payment processing services. You can use a form builder to build payment forms that you can send over to patients to collect payments easily. This method makes it extremely convenient for the patient to complete their payments. They can quickly fill out the necessary information and complete their payments. The telemedicine provider won’t have to redirect patients to a website while also avoiding the inefficiencies of clerical work. Patients can schedule their appointments, provide the necessary information, and pay for their telemedicine visits with a single form. To name a great duo, you can rely on PayJunction’s integration with JotForm to create these forms and collect payments.

To Conclude

We are living in strange times. But as times change, so do we. While telemedicine was a relevant concept 10 years ago, it’s now vital for healthcare providers. And, thanks to the availability of better technology, the switch to it has been smooth. The same case applies to online payments. They have been relevant for a long time too and have become a central part of our everyday lives.

Clerical work like collecting payments might not be the most talked about topic in telemedicine, but it’s a crucial cog in the wheel.

Explore remote payment practices in more detail.

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Has your medical practice moved to telemedicine? Tell us what remote payment options you’ve offered to patients in the comments section below.


About Author
Picture of Su Kaygun Sayran

Su Kaygun Sayran

Grown up in Melbourne and lived in various corners of the world, Su loves writing about all things tech. His experience with various SaaS businesses has enabled him to carry his passion for writing into the tech industry. Currently working at JotForm, helping people become more productive, one blog post at a time.

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