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HIMSS19 practice insights: Deirdre Ruttle

Insight Article - February 26, 2019

Billing & Collections

Chris Harrop
There were tens of thousands of people in attendance each year at the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, and I was one of them.

This year in Orlando, Fla., I heard from a number of health IT professionals, executives, vendors and clinicians who all see the need for the ongoing evolution of health IT and information management systems, especially for medical group practices.

On Feb. 12, I sat down with Deirdre Ruttle, vice president of strategy, InstaMed, to talk a bit about the demands of patient consumerism and rising to the challenges of ensuring a quality patient experience as it relates to revenue cycle.

Ensuring that healthcare billing is done in a consumer-convenient method akin to other aspects of day-to-day life was a major theme of Ruttle’s message — with a particular focus on security and satisfaction.

“We believe you need to give consumers … options to make payments because they’re used to that experience when they pay their cellphone bills, their cable bills and/or other household bills,” Ruttle said, referring to the many different methods — phone, online, in-person and beyond — in which billing occurs.

“But you’ve got to make sure it’s secure,” she noted. “When you think about all the ways that payments can be made, unfortunately in the world that we live in, someone is figuring out how to hack every type of payment method out there.”

As practices embrace new channels for billing, securing those channels is vital to the patient experience, especially because the challenge of collections has risen as more financial responsibility has shifted to patients in recent years.

“The percentage of consumers who have gone to collections, received bills higher than they thought they would be, were completely confused by bills – the numbers are staggering,” Ruttle said. “We absolutely have to think about the financial portion of the patient experience. … We have to change that dynamic in terms of helping people understand, ‘What are my benefits? What is my total out-of-pocket maximum?’”

Ruttle previewed some insights from a forthcoming report by InstaMed based on data from the volumes of healthcare payments the organization processes each year. In short, when it comes to medical practice revenue cycles, ease of use is a big indicator of likely success.

“When you give consumers convenience in healthcare … they utilize it,” Ruttle said. “They take advantage of things like digital wallets, automatic payments or payment plans. … Why shouldn’t healthcare be like that?”
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About the Author

Chris Harrop
Chris Harrop
Senior Editorial Manager MGMA

Chris Harrop, senior editorial manager, MGMA, serves as editor of MGMA's flagship print publication, MGMA Connection magazine, and oversees various association content publications while also serving as a contributing author for the organization. Prior to MGMA, he was managing editor of multiple news organizations in the Denver metro area. Email him.


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