Chip Cards

In a previous article about marketing to Millennials, we talked briefly about how younger patients are more responsive to technology in general, and prefer to have electronic payment options available to them. But you may not be aware that in October 2015, the four major credit card companies (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover) created a new set of guidelines for combatting fraud. Now, whichever party is the least chip-card compliant in the chain of a fraudulent purchase, is responsible for the cost of card-present fraud. This could spell disaster for private practices that are not yet chip-card compliant, particularly in light of the fact that healthcare systems are targeted by cybercriminals more than any other industry.

So we touched on why being chip-card compliant is important, but there are other ways for private practices to embrace electronic billing.

NFCs and Mobile Wallets

NFC stands for “near-field communication”, and in short, it is a chip in a smartphone that talks with payment terminals, replacing the need for a credit card altogether. To complete a transaction, a customer merely “waves” her phone near a payment terminal and the transaction completes. Both Apple Pay™ and Samsung Pay are two examples of such programs. According to merchant-solution provider TSYS, the demand for NFC is increasing dramatically, with 2.8 million transactions expected to be completed by NFC in 2017. Since most consumers don’t leave their house without their smartphones these days, payment can be easily and securely made with little more than a touch. NFCs also reduce the time a transaction takes to complete, one of the major hurdles of the chip-card rollout, which has been plagued by reports of chip-card transactions taking longer than swiped-card transactions, and substantially longer than NFC transactions.

Tablet POS

According to TSYS, another innovation in the field of electronic payment is the addition of Tablet POS (point-of-sale) systems. This tech replaces your existing credit card reader with a tablet that can be moved from place to place easily. Naturally, this tech has been typically more appealing to restaurants and retailers, where it makes sense for an employee with a tablet to move physically around the workspace collecting payments, thereby reducing the time customers spend paying. But I mention it here because as tablet systems get more and more advanced, they are quickly becoming mobile storage sites as well as running practice management software. With the increase of practice management suites being based on tablet operating systems (which we talked about in a recent blog post), you may be able to integrate your practice management software, your information database, as well as your pay station all into one mobile platform. Of course you’ll want to make sure these devices and systems are extremely secure and protected since they can be transported (or stolen) easily.

As you can see, there are many options for private practices wishing to move forward with innovative payment solutions. Some of these may be necessary to protect against fraudulent purchases, while others may offer an attractive and compact platform for both consumer and merchant. Discuss any of these technological innovations with your information technology provider to make sure they make sense for your business, are compliant with HIPAA and all other current patient privacy laws, and are secured from outside intrusions.