Lockdown and the COVID crisis fast-tracked a move towards remote working and contactless patient journey’s that was already underway in the clinical sector. Online solutions to patient management and engagement have been in place for the last few years, but their adoption and implementation has sky-rocketed since March 2020.
Payment processing is a key element of this. The ability to process and receive payments online is really essential for any modern practice seeking to offer convenience and security to patients. A number of payment processing solutions exist to support practices and as a customer you have several options.
Online payment processing is managed over three distinct elements.
The payment processor transmits information from your customer’s credit/debit card to your bank and the customer’s bank. They deal with issues like card limits, credit card validity, security, and so on. If they have enough money in their account, the transaction will be approved, and the payment will go through. The payment processor is like a middleman between the bank and the clinic.
The payment gateway connects your website and the payment processor. They can also help connect your merchant account with credit/debit card issuers. Basically, the payment gateway handles the technical side of the transaction and ensures that you’ll be able to receive your customers’ payments.
The merchant account is a type of bank account that enables your business to accept online payments. If you don’t have a merchant account, there’s nowhere for the money that your customers have transferred to you to go. While you won’t have direct access to the account itself, funds from your merchant account will be automatically transferred to your business bank account within one or two working days.
Many online payment processing solutions combine all three of these elements in one product, while some may use a third-party payment processor. An all-in-one solution may offer advantages in simplicity and support.
Popular online payment providers include Paypal and Stripe for card payments, and GoCardless for standing order, one off and variable and bank account transactions.
These providers handle billions of dollars in transactions daily and offer high-end security to your business and your customers, effectively taking all of the stress and responsibility of payment processing out of your hands.
Of course, there is a cost for the high levels of convenience that they offer, with fees ranging from 1.5%-3% and a fixed sum of 20-30p per transaction, depending on the supplier and the size of the sale. It is important that you factor this in to your budgeting.
There is a further significant factor to take into account when offering payment methods to your patients. For recurring payments (ie for a treatment plan, repayment/prepayment for treatment etc), card payments have a failure rate of up to 15%. This is due to a range of factors from cards expiring, being reported lost or credit limits being reached.
Using a tool such as GoCardless to manage these regular payments direct from a bank account offers a much more reliable platform, with cards still in use for single or occasional payments for treatments, appointments or product purchases.
Whatever solution, or range of solutions that you do opt for, online payment processing should be integrated as a seamless element of your practice management software and able to reconcile with your patient and business accounts at all times. This should be a key part of the digital transformation of your business.
For further support, advice and guidance on digital tools and online patient engagement, please contact our support team, who will be happy to help.