Solution delivers safe and compliant ways for veterinary practices to take payments via many channels that automatically post to practice management software.
Nashville, TN, June 18, 2020—Sphere, the leading provider of end-to-end integrated payments and security software, and Sikka Software, a market leader in advancing retail healthcare connectivity, today announced their integrated payments platform called Sikka Payments is now available for the veterinary market.
Sikka Payments joins Sphere’s technology and merchant processing with Sikka Software’s innovative practice solutions to streamline collections and payment acceptance. The solution enables veterinary practices to accept client payments securely from a variety of channels.
As practices are now adapting to accommodate social distancing, the need for flexible, self-service methods for clients to pay is paramount. Whether in person, online, mobile, text and/or card on file, the innovative Sikka Payments platform delivers safe and compliant ways for vet practices to take payments. These transactions automatically post back to the veterinarian’s compatible practice management software (PiMS) for greater efficiency.
- Flexible modes of payments for the pet parents, including mobile, SMS and web-based, to enable payments on the go.
- Easy-to-use desktop application that sits next to the PiMS so everything is on a single screen. Payments are posted automatically back to the PiMS in real-time.
- Supports tokenization and validated point-to-point encryption to enable secure card on file payments and safe transaction processing.
- Ability to create set it and forget it installment plans. For those who cannot pay in full at the time of service, customized, automatic payment plans can improve collections.
- Push requests for payments, allowing clients to complete the payment on their phone without the need to come to a waiting room or shared card reader.
“While self-service payments have been on the rise for years, the current environment has greatly accelerated the need to allow customers to pay with their mobile devices. The work we have done with Sikka has prepared clients to quickly adapt, allowing them to continue to collect payments as interaction within their waiting rooms and front desks has been reduced,” said Steve Rizzuto, Chief Executive Officer of Sphere.
“The payment experience is undergoing fundamental changes for veterinary practices, particularly in the era of social distancing,” said Vijay Sikka, Chief Executive Officer of Sikka Software. “Sikka Payments, powered by Sphere, will provide pet parents with the flexible methods they need to pay their vet bills, and at the same time, automate many of manual processes at the front desk. No solution in the market enables the level of 360-degree integration offered with Sikka Payments.”
To learn more, visit: Sikka Payments for Veterinarians
Sphere, powered by TrustCommerce, is a software and financial technology company providing integrated solutions that reduce friction and facilitate better and more secure commercial interactions with customers in specialized vertical markets, primarily healthcare, non-profit, transportation and education. Sphere’s integrated payments technology and security software enable its clients to process payments in a way that is highly secure and compliant, integrated with core business software, omnichannel, and processor-neutral. Sphere’s partner-centric focused payments solutions serve small, midsize and enterprise level businesses and software companies in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
About Sikka Software
Sikka Software is helping to rethink the retail healthcare market using a single API cloud platform with Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics. Focusing on non-physician practices in dentistry, audiology, veterinary, optometry, chiropractic, orthodontic and oral surgery etc., Sikka Software now has over 34,000 practice installations on its platform. These are businesses where the primary skilled worker is also the owner who needs tools to digitize their practice and help them make more real-time, optimized decisions. Sikka Software API and cloud platform connect to 90% of the retail healthcare market including practice management systems and financial software. For more information, please visit https://sikkasoft.com.
By Ryne Natzke, Sphere and Vince Martino, Chief Product Officer, VisitPay
PaymentsJournal, a leading payments and banking news and information portal, recently published an article co-authored by Ryne Natzke, Vice President of Strategic Accounts and Healthcare at Sphere and Vince Martino, Chief Product Officer, VisitPay.
Click to read the full article.
Below is an excerpt.
In healthcare, the payment process differs from virtually all other industries in one significant way: patients do not pay for the bulk of the service received themselves because their insurance companies do.
American healthcare consumers have come to expect that their insurers will handle most billing issues with their medical providers. However, the responsibility has started to shift in recent years. Patients are increasingly paying more of their own medical costs due to rising health insurance deductibles and escalating out-of-pocket expenses. This year, for example, individuals with commercial insurance will be responsible for 20% to 35% of the cost of the healthcare they receive. For hospitals and health systems, this means that 20% to 35% of their total revenue must now be collected directly from the consumer. …
This is a guest post by Barnard Crespi, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Datatel. Datatel is integrated with Sphere for secure payment acceptance via Datatel’s IVR solutions.
Learn how IVR Payment Solutions Can Help Healthcare Providers Relieve the Stress on Staffing and Business Operations Caused By the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted the functioning of healthcare providers across the board. Business leaders have been forced to recalibrate their entire operations, quickly activate business continuity plans, make staff reductions and/or reallocations and implement work-at-home policies where viable. The ability of healthcare providers to respond promptly to their patients’ phone inquiries, prioritize payment calls and maintain PCI compliance and data security as staff works from home can be compromised by the need for on-the-fly re-architecture of business and security processes to respond to rapidly changing developments. For those healthcare providers seeking a solution to what might very well end up becoming a long-term issue, IVR payments can be a vital payment acceptance solution. Implementation of IVR payments can help healthcare providers relieve the stress caused by the need for significant staff changes while enabling them to continue processing patient payments. All this without compromising customer service or PCI compliance.
IVR Payments (Interactive Voice Response) is a technology that allows patients to make payments over the telephone by interacting with an automated system, as opposed to having to provide their payment card information to a live agent. Because it is fully automated, an IVR payment solution can operate 24/7 as opposed to being limited to a business’s normal hours of operation (“normal” being an ever-evolving concept in these uncertain times). And for those healthcare providers that for various reasons still require the involvement of an agent or staff member in the process, IVR can be deployed in such a way as to allow representatives to speak to patients and then transfer the call seamlessly when it’s time to collect and process the caller’s payment information.
Types of IVR Payment Solutions
There are two primary types of IVR payment solutions.
- Customer (Patient) Self-Service – IVR Payment Solutions:
With Customer (Patient) Self-Service IVR payments, your patients call into your organization’s existing phone number and select “Payments” from your front end phone menu (e.g. “To Make A Payment Now, Press 1”. You can set it as 1, 2 or 3 which ever works best for your organization). Your phone system will transfer the call to your DatatelPay-By-Phone line, which is branded and configured to your specifications. Your patients can make a payment using their payment card, in a PCI compliant environment with transactions processed in real-time to your Sphere, Powered by TrustCommerce account. Datatel’s IVR Payment platform is integrated to the Sphere/TrustCommerce gateway so organizations can process payments securely. Sphere’s experience in integrating patient payments for hundreds of leading health systems over the last 15+ years gives comfort to patients and providers that their data will be kept secure.
- Agent Assisted – IVR Payment Solutions
While your representative is speaking with a patient, he or she can transfer your patients to the DatatelPay-By-Phone line when it comes time to collect the patient’s payment information. Your representative can then exit the call, thereby ensuring the confidentiality of your patients’ payment card information. This solution leaves your patients confident that their information is safe and secure and you can rest easy in the knowledge that your phone payment solution support your PCI compliance.
Datatel’s IVR Payment Solutions can help you manage call payment activity efficiently and securely. Among its many advantages are:
- Your patients can securely make phone payments 24/7, outside your regular business hours
- The stress on your staff is reduced and your operations are more efficient and responsive by not having to devote time to handling payment-related calls. This can also work with representatives who are re-deployed to work from home.
- Compliance with industry security requirements (PCI and HIPAA) and keeps you in compliance while you re-deploy your workforce.
- Transactions flow directly into your existing Sphere, Powered by TrustCommerce account without having to make any changes.
- Datatel posts the payment information back to the EHR automatically.
- Datatel IVR solutions can be deployed in a matter of days. Depending on the complexity of the deployments, implementation times can take as little as 5 to 12 business days.
We are hopeful that with the efforts of medical experts and scientists globally, the current COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that it has on all of our lives will begin to subside. Businesses and organizations that are burdened with coping with all of the implications need to make sure that they are not just making decisions that help them navigate the here and now, but that will also serve them well when things eventually return to normal (or whatever the new normal ends up being).
In turbulent times like the ones we are experiencing, when the situation changes throughout the day and reaction time is of the essence, our experienced and dedicated teams of IVR Payment Solutions specialists can have your IVR Payments Solution up and running in a matter of days with no need for any hardware or software for you to buy or install. Contact us, we are here to help.
As government, city and other civic agencies enact restrictions on businesses in an effort to safeguard the public and prevent the spread of germs, exceptions have been granted for what most are calling essential businesses or essential jobs. Examples include grocery stores, medical offices, postal services, childcare or senior care centers, transportation providers and more.
While these businesses and service providers remain open to patrons, it’s important to practice safe social distancing and limit the amount of contact made, including during each payment transaction.
Here are a few ways essential businesses and consumers can limit contact when a transaction takes place:
Contactless Payment Solutions
The spread of germs through cash and card–present transactions is top of mind. Contactless payment methods, such as with payment cards enabled with NFC chips, or smartphones enabled with Apple Pay or Google Pay*, help merchants and customers avoid physical interaction. When choosing a terminal for your business, consider its contactless capabilities. While the adoption of contactless payments has been a trend recently, the popularity of this type of transaction is paramount in a time where the spread of germs is a heightened concern.
No Signature Required
Don’t forget, as of 2018, the card brands (Visa, Discover, MasterCard, American Express) no longer require signatures when making a purchase with a credit card. There’s no need to have pens available for customers to use to sign. This simple step can give everyone peace of mind.
Pay Before You Go
A popular way to reduce contact is to allow customers to prepay for goods and services when possible via a remote payment option such as an online payment, text to pay, or over the phone.
Properly Clean Equipment
Some contact with devices is unavoidable. Most device manufacturers are offering guidance on how to properly clean your equipment. In addition, consumers and employees can help by making sure to clean s payment cards regularly, practice safe social distancing, wiping down checkout counters and surfaces, and washing hands between each transaction.
As businesses start to reopen their doors and social distancing recommendations start to ease, there may still be a demand from cautious consumers to limit any potential interactions. There is no way to know what consumer behaviors will last beyond the current environment. It’s a good idea for businesses to make these features available to consumers who wish to continue to minimize contact with others even after all restrictions are lifted.
*NFC/Contactless is limited to hardware manufacturer device capabilities and/or authorization network EMV certifications.
By Dr. Heather Mark, CCEP
Over the course of the last seven weeks, the business world has undergone a seismic shift. Remote work, which had its advocates and detractors over the last two decades, has become a necessity. The technology exists to make this happen, and while it hasn’t been without its obstacles, we’re living a real-time experiment in how connected we can be in isolation. Transitions and adjustments are being made to workflows and business operations to account for this new environment. With all these changes being made so rapidly, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that our compliance and security obligations have not changed, particularly around the protection of sensitive data (PII, PHI, etc.). That can sound daunting, but there are steps that we can all take in our remote offices to help ensure support the continued security of patient and payment related data.
- Use a secured WiFi network and VPN – a secure WiFi network uses a password and encryption to protect access to the network and the data that travels over the network. WPA2, or WiFi Protected Access 2, is the currently accepted security protocol for wireless networks. VPN will provide a secure connection between your computer and the company’s network.
- Change default passwords on home networks – when setting up your home network, make sure that you change the default passwords set up for routers, access points, and similar devices. These are often set by vendors and are easily guessable (e.g. admin, password, default).
- Make sure devices used for remote work have secure configurations – any devices used for working at home should have personal firewalls installed and operational. Antivirus should be installed and current and all the appropriate security patches should be installed. These applications should be configured in such a way that they cannot be disabled by the user.
- Keep your work and home life separate – make sure that you’re not using personal devices for work activities and vice versa. If you do use a personal device, for example a phone, for work, make sure that you keep a separation between work information and personal activities.
- Maintain vigilance about malicious emails and information security – particularly during these unsettling times, hackers are looking for the easiest way into a network. That means getting people to give them access (by clicking links or opening attachments) instead of having to “break in.” All of the same security and compliance processes and practices that apply in the office must also apply in the remote office.
It’s also important to work with partners that can support secure payments anyway you need to take them – via virtual terminal, IVR or, e-commerce. Restricting access to payment data by using tokenization and token vaults for stored payments, and requiring multi-factor authentication for access to payment applications and data can all help to ensure that we all remain committed to securing payment data, even in non-traditional environments.
By Dr. Heather Mark, CCEP
The complex puzzle of PCI DSS compliance can be made more challenging for merchants when they introduce the wide variety of service providers that they use in order to service their customers. Increasingly, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are working to simplifying their merchants’ burdens by introducing integrated payment functionality. In essence, the ISV is presenting a one-stop opportunity for merchants to support their business management objectives – be it through back office support, inventory management or billing – while also enabling payment functionality. In doing so, the ISV may inadvertently become the de facto resource for merchants on all things PCI DSS related. So, what are some things that ISVs can do to help support their merchants in achieving and maintaining PCI DSS compliance.
#1 – Understand your own PCI DSS compliance obligations and status
It isn’t uncommon for an ISV to be new to the payments ecosystem. Even for those companies that are deeply ingrained in the payments chain, the compliance and security obligations facing payments companies can sometimes get confusing. As an ISV, it is important to understand whether your integration of payment functionality renders you a Payment Service Provider, as defined by the PCI SSC. A Payment Service Provider is an entity that stores, processes, or transmits cardholder data on behalf of another entity, or can impact the security of the transaction. If the ISV integrates payments in such a way as to fall into that scope, then the ISV must validate compliance with the PCI DSS. Merchants must use PCI DSS compliant service providers, so it’s important that ISVs are prepared to provide their Attestation of Compliance (AOC) to their merchants.
If the ISV is able to offer payments functionality without falling into the Payment Service Provider scope, then the entity must be able to clearly articulate how they are able to maintain that status. For example, if the ISV has partnered with another PCI-compliant service provider to offer a hosted payment page, and the ISV does not host, nor does it redirect to that page, then it may be possible to remain out of scope. This is dependent on the ISV integration and the current guidance from the PCI SSC and the card brands.
#2 – Implement Industry Best Practice Even if You’re Not in Scope
Even if an ISV is able to maintain a posture that keeps it out of scope for PCI DSS, it is important to maintain industry best practice for data security and privacy. Having good security practice is not just necessary for those companies that are obligated to PCI DSS. Most states have data breach notification laws that offer safe harbor for encryption of sensitive data, as long as the encryption keys are not also exposed. Additionally, states are rapidly moving towards the adoption of privacy laws, most of which have data protection requirements. Maintain compliance with industry standards such as PCI DSS, even in the absence of card scheme requirements, can put an ISV, and by extension their clients, in good stead with respect to existing and forthcoming regulatory requirements.
#3 – Explain the Payment Integration Options that You Offer and their PCI Implications for Your Merchants
For ISVs that are looking to add payments functionality, it’s important to understand how that choices you make about the payment solutions you integrate cascade down to merchants. For instance, if an ISV integrates a hosted payment page the likelihood that the merchant will be able validate their own compliance using the SAQ-A is fairly high. However, if an ISV integrates and offers a redirected page, the merchant is more likely to be required to validate using an SAQ A-EP, which is a much longer questionnaire. Both may be valid choices for a variety of reasons, but ISVs should understand the implications on their merchants
#4 – Clearly Communicate Who Owns What Responsibilities
The interplay between merchants and service providers can be complex, particularly if merchants are able to select services and features a la carte. This can lead to uncertainty as to which entity might own responsibility for various security controls. ISVs can demonstrate partnership with their merchants by providing a “shared responsibility” matrix. The matrix doesn’t need to be very complicated, but it should clearly delineate which PCI responsibilities belong the ISV and which belong to the client. Since all merchants must comply, and any business with a Merchant Identifier (MID) must validation compliance, this documentation can significantly simplify their own process of PCI compliance management.
PCI DSS compliance is a fact of life for any participant in the payment system. Understanding how your decisions as an ISV can impact the compliance standing of your client portfolio can help you make more informed decisions about the solutions that you implement and may simplify the compliance and validation process for your merchants.
Gives software vendors the power of accepting payments via many channels through one single integration.
Nashville, TN, April 8, 2020—Sphere, Powered by TrustCommerce, a leading provider of end-to-end integrated payments and security software, today announced it has launched a Hosted Multi-Channel Payment suite. This solution gives software vendors the power of accepting payments via multiple channels through one simple integration.
The ability to accept payments within a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution is essential. With consumer demand for anytime, anywhere payments, Sphere has developed a Hosted Multi-Channel Payment Suite with one of the simplest integrations on the market. One integration into our robust hosted payment form connects independent software vendors (ISVs) to many payment acceptance channels: countertop EMV, call center/back office, and traditional online/ecommerce transactions. These solutions are highly customizable, ensuring branding continuity and a seamless user experience. A full sandbox environment is available as well as sample code assistance.
Using a hosted model, sensitive payment data stays out of software vendor environments, helping to protect transactions and reduce PCI scope. To help further mitigate risk and exposure, the Hosted Multi-Channel Payments Suite supports PCI Validated Point-to-Point Encryption.
Security features include:
- Tokenization for recurring and subscription payments
- Validated Point to Point Encryption
- Velocity controls to reduce fraudulent activity
Because Sphere is a gateway and merchant services provider, we are a single source for payments, reducing moving parts and avoiding potential points of interference.
“No other platform gives software vendors more choice, less development effort, and greater opportunities for immediate revenue,” said Steve Rizzuto, Chief Executive Officer of Sphere.
“With decades of experience working with developers and integration partners, the TrustCommerce Gateway offers a wide range of products and integration methods,” said Curtis Bauer, Chief Product Officer of Sphere. “Our new Hosted Multi-Channel Payments Suite represents a revolutionary next step in the evolution of hosted payments.”
To learn more, read the product fact sheet.
Sphere, powered by TrustCommerce, is a software and financial technology company providing integrated solutions that reduce friction and facilitate better and more secure commercial interactions with customers in specialized vertical markets, primarily healthcare, non-profit, transportation and education. Sphere’s integrated payments technology and security software enable its clients to process payments in a way that is highly secure and compliant, integrated with their core business software, omnichannel, and processor-neutral. Sphere’s partner-centric focused payments solutions serve small, midsize and enterprise level businesses and software companies in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. For news and thought leadership, visit the Sphere Blog.
We recently sat down with Curtis Bauer, Sphere Chief Product Officer, to learn about an innovative new product, Hosted Multi-Channel Payment Suite. This solution gives software vendors the power of accepting payments via many channels through one single integration.
Q1: You recently launched a hosted payments product suite for software vendors, what sparked the solution?
Bauer: That’s actually an interesting story. The Sphere Product team is constantly thinking about ways in which we can solve ISV needs in the most impactful, secure, but lightest way possible. One of our most successful ISV solutions is our Premier hosted payment page, which enables ISVs to accept card not present transactions within their SaaS based solution, e-commerce site, mobile, text or even email. In fact, calling it a hosted payment page is probably a bit of an understatement as it somewhat minimizes its robust capabilities. ISVs love the product due to its simple integration, branding and style continuity, as well as PCI scope reduction.
The Product team thought about ways we might be able to leverage all of the benefits that are inherent with our Premier hosted payment page, but allow us to expand it into other user scenarios, including the ability to accept EMV card present transactions. The team came up with an idea to leverage a fairly underutilized technological approach, which the team theorized might allow us to connect a traditional EMV card reader to a PC and process EMV transactions through a browser, without the need to install software on the desktop or leverage any antiquated java scripting to communicate with the EMV device. To test the theory, the Product team worked with our Development team and to make a long story short, the approach was proven to be viable and it ended up being the foundation for expanding our hosted payment page into an entire multi-channel hosted payment product suite.
Q2: What are the main problems this solution solves?
Bauer: ISVs have four critical challenges as it relates to adding payment acceptance to their core product solution:
- How do they enable payments to their solution with the least amount of development effort
- How do they enable payments in a way that does not interrupt the user experience, keeping the same look, feel and flow
- How do they enable payments across multiple acceptance use cases
- Possibly the most important challenge, how do they ensure cardholder data does not reside within the ISV’s platform, minimizing their PCI footprint, while protecting their customers from cardholder data breaches
Our new hosted payment product suite solves for these critical challenges and much more. ISVs face so many challenges with bringing their products to market. As a payment processor and gateway platform, we have a responsibility to ensure payment acceptance doesn’t become one of those challenges, but more importantly, ensure payment acceptance enhances their core product offering to improve the overall value proposition to their customers.
Q3: How can this product suite fit into software vendors business models? Can you share an example?
Bauer: One of my favorite examples is an ISV that creates business management software for a bakery. Let’s say that the bakery sells their products from a retail location. They need the ability to accept card-present EMV transactions from their in-store customers through the ISV’s SaaS-based business management solution. The bakery also has a website where they accept orders for birthday cakes or other items, in which they need the ability to accept credit card transactions online. The bakery also has a cookie of the month club, where subscribers pay a monthly fee to enroll into receiving a dozen of their specialized cookies each month at a discounted price. The bakery needs the ability to accept a credit card, either in person or online, and then setup the card for a monthly recurring subscription billing. Finally, the bakery also takes orders over the phone for delivery. They need the ability to accept credit card information over the phone and process the transaction securely. Our hosted payment product suite not only provides the ability for an ISV to enable accepting payments via all of these scenarios, but it also allows them to do so while ensuring sensitive cardholder data is never stored within their platform, but is instead transmitted, processed and stored within the Sphere secure gateway. In addition, this only requires one simple integration, which allows the ISV to spend more time focusing on enhancing their core product instead of allocating precious development resources to managing their payment acceptance program.
If you would like to learn more about the Hosted Multi-Channel Payment Suite, read the fact sheet. To schedule a demo, click here.
Curtis Bauer, Chief Product Officer, brings more than two decades of payment industry experience with a core focus on Product, Technology and Corporate strategy. He has held Senior Leadership roles at TSYS, TransFirst and Vantiv. He is responsible for identifying and executing on our product strategy to help deliver growth by providing innovative solutions to our customers.
In our new series, Small Business Huddle, the Sphere team shares insights and tips that help small to medium sized businesses stay ahead of the game.
In times like these, small businesses must quickly and efficiently adapt the ways they sell their goods and services. In a broad effort to protect the public, we have seen so many industries affected by government, city and other civic agencies’ restrictions due to the COVID-19. Here are ways small businesses can adapt and accept payments electronically using the Sphere solutions you have available today when cash isn’t an option. These include:
- Virtual Terminal – secure, web-based application that lets you enter in credit card and ACH details manually.
- Hosted payment pages – through a simple integration, this solution directs a customer to a secure payments page to enter their credit card information, which is securely hosted within a Sphere environment. The credit card information never touches your systems.
- Mobile payment acceptance – these solutions let you take payments via your mobile phone.
Anytime, anywhere, Sphere provides secure and compliant payment acceptance.
Many organizations and businesses are already adjusting to these major and sudden shifts in consumer behavior. Here are some great examples:
- Restaurants: From Dining Rooms to Delivery and Curbside Pick-up
Restaurants are having to mobilize their businesses quickly, closing dining rooms and pivoting to delivery and curb side pickup options. Today’s smart terminals offer many features and operate on wireless networks. These terminals can help businesses become more mobile, for example Poynt 5, VitalSelect, and CardFlight.
- Cashless Consumers: Mostly Cashless to Nearly Zero Cash
It’s no secret that cash has historically carried an elevated level of germs and with the world on high alert, consumers have turned to avoiding cash more than ever in favor of electronic, credit card payment methods. Through Sphere Merchant Services, businesses can implement contactless options via terminals that accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, and NFC capabilities. In addition, Sphere’s Virtual Terminal and gateway solutions enable businesses to accept card not present payments over the phone.
- Charity Events and Church Services: Collection Plates to “Donate Now” Buttons
Church services and charitable events across the US have largely been suspended in favor of social distancing. While religious organizations have mostly pivoted to online gatherings, they may struggle to collect donations from a congregation that is used to passing around a collection plate in person.
Through a web-based gateway, churches and other charitable organizations can begin to collect donations online while donor events are largely suspended for the time being.
Sphere’s partner, Qgiv, offers easy to set up and use online donation and fundraising solutions.
- Small Businesses: Store Fronts to Websites and Virtual Services
All non-essential businesses have been closing their doors to in-person foot traffic. Small businesses without a web presence will need to adopt online or mobile payment channels quickly. We are seeing a trend in offering services performed traditionally in-person shift to online technologies. For example, tutoring sessions, yoga classes and music lessons can be offered virtually. In these examples, the provider needs a payment method that can work in this new environment where there is not a card present.
This environment is requiring business to adapt quickly and our team wants to help you pursue business continuity no matter the circumstance. We are offering complementary consultations on all payment solutions. Call today. US Merchants 855.426.6842, Option 2; Canadian Merchants 855.330.7057, Option 2
The Nilson Report, a leading publication covering payment systems worldwide, recently published an article on Sphere’s integration with VisitPay.
Click to read the full article.
Below is an excerpt.
Text to Pay in Healthcare
In 2000, the out-of-pocket expense for medical services received by workers with employer-provided health insurance ranged from 2.5% to 5% of the yearly total. In 2020, individuals with employer-provided or private insurance will be responsible for 20% to 35% of the cost of the healthcare they receive. For providers of healthcare, particularly hospitals connected to physician groups and a full range of related service providers, this means that 20% to 35% of their total revenue must be collected directly from the consumer.
Managing payments for large integrated healthcare providers is the business of VisitPay, formed 10 years ago by former Capital One credit card executives. Its software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based VisitPay platform is provided on a white-label basis at the website of the healthcare provider. It combines charges from hospitals and physician groups to present a single invoice to the patient, minus any payments covered by insurance companies.
This is a guest post from the team at VisitPay.
See how Sphere and VisitPay enable health systems to meet consumer expectations through Text to Pay.
In this Q&A, Vincent Martino, Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder of VisitPay, talks about the impact of the partnership on the patient financial experience.
Why is it important to offer financial support to patients via their mobile devices?
Vincent Martino: Offering mobile-enabled tools to manage and self-service healthcare billing obligations has become a baseline capability for any financial engagement strategy. Demand for a text to pay solution is clear through our continual extensive consumer research. In fact, about 50% of our VisitPay platform logins today are from a mobile device with some of our clients seeing that number approach 60%.
Many variables determine how patients manage bills and the best way to engage with these patients. Because patient preferences vary so broadly, health systems need to consistently provide patient-tailored and accurate financial information across multiple channels of communication. A one-size-fits-all billing strategy lacks the flexibility and personalization required to meet people where they are in their lives.
Now that many people – and not just younger generations – manage their lives through their mobile devices, more consumers expect to be able to manage their healthcare needs anywhere, anytime, and on their own terms. Most industries, including healthcare, are investing considerable resources to reach and engage with consumers through mobile devices.
Why is Sphere the right partner for VisitPay and how can this partnership benefit health systems and their patients?
Martino: We view Sphere as a market leader in payments technology, security and compliance. We’ve been working with Sphere for over six years to process payments securely on behalf of our health system clients. Together, we have launched a mobile payments solution called Text to Pay, which allows health systems to securely accept patient payments through text messages while integrating seamlessly with existing EMR platforms, like Epic. This solution gives patients an additional, convenient way to pay their healthcare bills.
What kind of health system can VisitPay and Sphere best serve?
Martino: Both VisitPay and Sphere are adept at serving large, multi-facility health systems. At VisitPay, we serve some of the largest health systems in the nation including Intermountain Healthcare, Texas Health Resources, Henry Ford, and Inova. These healthcare organizations typically already have a patient payment approach in place and are looking to open up new channels to collect payment easily and in a way that’s convenient for the patient. Another important aspect for our clients is that our platform is tightly integrated into their existing EMR providing ease for staff and a unified experience for patients.
How does it work and what are the key capabilities of Text to Pay?
Martino: The patient begins by opting into Text to Pay and storing a secure payment method. VisitPay monitors all billing activity and sends an automated notification via SMS when there is a new balance to pay. The system provides a great deal of flexibility in that patients can actually pay one or more balances at a time. For example, they can pay full or partial balances, create payments over time and set a payment threshold.
The system also has intelligence built in and uses automated text bot responses based on what the patient is trying to do. This gives the patient on-demand information should questions emerge while making payments. These text bots also share important information that a patient might require during the process, reducing the need to contact the health system call center.
All messaging to the patient, as well as text frequency, is customizable by the health system and configurable by the user.
How does Text to Pay help health system operations?
Martino: When patients are given self service tools, inbound calls to the health system drop significantly. Calls to make payments over the phone become less frequent, and fewer questions arise about how much patients owe since patient’s have insight and clarity around their bills.
An additional way Text to Pay supports health system operations is by having all payments automatically post back to the core billing system. This alleviates any need for manual intervention typically required for payment posting by revenue cycle staff. We also have created advanced proprietary logic to ensure no credit balances are created like many manual and automated payment methods do today.
What are the financial benefits for the health system offering Text to Pay?
Martino: One of the biggest advantages of Text to Pay for a health system is getting paid faster. Text to Pay is based on automated alerts to patients, who naturally pay faster because notifications come directly to their phone, the device through which they manage their everyday lives. They schedule appointments, plan their social lives, order products and services, and manage their money through their phones. We know that patients are very responsive to texts and through the Text to Pay solution they will be alerted once their balance becomes known. With patients paying faster we anticipate days AR to go down.
How hard is it for a health system to implement Text to Pay?
Martino: We’ve designed this to be very easy to implement. It’s meant to be fully complementary to existing tools so it can be plugged into any existing payment portal, including MyChart. It doesn’t disturb or disrupt any payment solution already in place today. Additionally, deployments are easy. Some basic data is needed from the health system before automated notifications to patients can begin, and in turn we send data back to the health system for posting and reconciliation purposes . This can all be done in real time if the health system has those capabilities.
How can Text to Pay positively affect the patient’s financial experience?
Martino: There are patients who want a fast, flexible experience and are comfortable paying from their phones. Text to Pay meets these patients where they are and in how they want to pay. We know that when patients are given options on how to pay, net promoter scores increase which in turn generates loyalty between patient and health system.
How does Text to Pay fit into and complement the broader VisitPay solution?
Martino: Text to Pay is one component of a much larger patient financial experience platform that incorporates machine learning, advanced analytics and the ability to capture data across ambulatory and acute-care billing systems. Through all our products, health systems can surface granular insights into patient preferences and expectations. This gives them the ability to present the right offer at the right time to each unique patient, while adhering to the health system’s policies. This ultimately drives higher patient satisfaction along with higher payments.
See Text to Pay in Action
To learn more about Text to Pay, click here to set up some time with a Solutions Consultant. If you are going to be at HIMSS, stop by booth #2488 to see it in action.
Solution enables health systems to meet consumer expectations for mobile payments while complementing EMR functionality.
Nashville, TN, February 27, 2020—Sphere, Powered By TrustCommerce, a leading provider of end-to-end integrated payments and security software, today announced a new collaboration with VisitPay, the leader in patient financial engagement. Together, they have launched a mobile payments solution called Text to Pay, which offers healthcare providers the ability to securely offer and accept patient payments through text messages. This innovative solution complements existing payment channels already in place to give patients an additional, convenient way to pay their healthcare bills.
Offering mobile-enabled tools for patients to manage and self-service their medical expenses is essential for healthcare providers. With the rise of high-deductible health plans and co-pays, patients today are responsible for a greater percentage of their healthcare bills. Further, consumers’ perceptions of their healthcare experience are heavily influenced by the level of transparency and convenience provided by the billing experience. People manage their lives through their mobile devices and healthcare is no different. Consumers expect to manage their healthcare needs anywhere, anytime.
Consumers are already demonstrating their preference for mobile channels. Up to 60 percent of VisitPay platform logins are now made through a mobile device, and rapid adoption of this new Text to Pay solution is expected. “Our patients are looking for mobile payment solutions,” commented Mike Weed, senior vice president of financial operations at INTEGRIS Health. “It is important that healthcare financial leaders meet consumer expectations for a contemporary financial experience.”
To meet this demand, Text to Pay combines Sphere’s leading secure payments platform with VisitPay’s patient-centric expertise in a first of a kind solution to enable health systems to take payments over SMS without exposing any sensitive card or patient information, and utilizing a card token already collected from the patient. Without needing to download another app, consumers can pay single visits or multiple visits at a time, using credit, debit, or ACH. Payments are posted automatically to the corresponding visit in the billing system, ensuring convenience and efficiency for the provider revenue cycle team.
“Through our partnership with Sphere we can help health systems offer convenient and secure payment channels to their patients,” said Kent Ivanoff, chief executive officer of VisitPay. “Mobile access to the VisitPay platform already exceeds traditional desktop usage in some regions of the US. Text to Pay is an important solution for health systems looking to meet consumers where they are, without disrupting the core EMR environment.”
“As the payments ecosystem continues to expand and extend to new frontiers, security has to be first and foremost,” said Anthony Lucatuorto, chief revenue officer of Sphere. “We have deep experience working within EHRs like Epic and are excited to offer this complementary solution that will help our clients by integrating with their existing platform in a secure and compliant way.”
Sphere and VisitPay serve many of the most recognized large, integrated health systems composed of acute facilities, ambulatory service, and every physician specialty. VisitPay’s clients represent a total of $60 billion in annual net patient revenue.
Visit booth #2488 to see the Text to Pay demo during HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition, March 9-13, 2020 in Orlando.