If history is any lesson, the adoption of new technologies occurs in dramatic spurts as much as it occurs in a smooth linear fashion. Barely 8,000 motor vehicleswere registered in the US 1900. By 1915, that number topped two million. The internet, propelled by advances in connectivity and ease of access, is set to drastically transform how patients pay for medical services.
While the transition may seem incremental at the moment, a paradigm shift is on the horizon. The medical businesses that proactively stay ahead of these well-documented trends will be set to garner large portions of the $3.5 trillion US healthcare industry. Medical practices that do not adapt will face stagnant growth or even decline.
Drivers of online patient payments
Two trends are driving consumer spending habits: generational preferences and online technology. Every day, tens of thousands of digital natives enter the workforce, becoming health-care consumers with unique spending preferences. “Digital native” describes an individual who was raised in the digital age. Digital natives are far more likely to be comfortable making online payments through a mobile device than customers who learned how to access the internet as adults.
A recent Business.com article noted that millennials (born between 1982 and 2004) and members of Gen Z (born between 1996 and 2010) are “more likely to use technology and mobile devices to pay.” By comparison, only one-third of baby boomers make online payments using mobile devices. Today, 90% of millennials own a smartphone, and half of those use their mobile devices to make purchases.
Consumers of all generations appreciate consolidation. That’s just human nature. Several years ago, credit cards, cash, and checks reigned supreme as go-to payment options. Smartphones are the first devices that have allowed expansive consolidation of many tasks and tools, including payments.
Are consumer preferences driving technological advancement or is technology influencing consumer behavior? It’s a chicken and egg conundrum that possibly misses the important point. Indeed, both factors are concurrently shaping how patients pay for medical services. Of course, the prevalence of smartphone technology is a key driver of online payments. An astonishing 96% of Americans own a smartphone. These mobile devices now give patients access to online payment services, such as Apple Pay, PayPal, Venmo, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay.
As more consumers adapt to paying online, the consumer behavior becomes second nature. Online payments have become so commonplace that any medical practice that accepts only in-office payments risks frustrating their digital native patients.
Meet your patients where they are—online
As an entrepreneur, I’ve always used a forward-looking approach when launching a new company. My most recent venture, StrongBox Mobile, is an innovative mobile payment platform that allows any dental or medical business to stay ahead of the online payment curve. StrongBox Mobile can be accessed from any mobile device 24/7/365. Patients can download the free Papaya app to gain greater payment flexibility. Our mobile app allows any medical practice to integrate with StrongBox through an existing business website. From there, our clients can track payments, transaction details, online activity, and more through our online dashboard.
StrongBox Mobile allows medical or dental businesses to enhance revenue integrity while empowering patients. If your practice is ready to experience the benefits of mobile payments, contact our office online or call (855) 468-7876.
John O’Connor is CEO of StrongBox eSolutions, a leading health-care revenue cycle management and patient finance platform. StrongBox’s cloud-based application offers patient payment convenience and provider profitability, efficiency, and security. Strongbox eSolutions helps providers better manage revenue streams and receive payment more quickly and easily. For more information on Strongbox eSolutions and its patient payment portal and medical financing tools, contact O’Connor at (855) 468-7876.