Health IT Answers features insights from Ryne Natzke, Senior Vice President of Growth and Strategy, Sphere

Read the full article: Patient Engagement Is the Key to Improving Provider Collections

Here is an excerpt:

Patient collections have long been among the most significant operational and financial headaches for medical providers – resulting in lost time and money.

For example, patient collections take more than a month for 74% of providers, according to a recent survey. For two-thirds of providers, patient receivables represent their primary revenue concern.

Many of providers’ challenges associated with collections stem from the “patient-as-a-payer” trend, in which patients have been forced to assume a greater proportion of their own medical bills due to a range of factors such as the proliferation of high-deductible health plans. In the survey, 65% of providers said they have seen an increase in patient financial responsibility.

However, there is another less-obvious culprit that creates additional difficulties with patient collections: manual, paper-based processes. In many ways, healthcare has failed to maintain pace with the technological advances in other industries, and the numbers tell the story: 88% of providers reported relying on manual and paper-based transactions to collect patient financial responsibility, 73% of providers use paper and manual processes for check-in, and only 23% of providers offer electronic statements, according to the survey.

In short, providers’ inability to engage patients is costing them. Patient engagement primarily depends on two factors – making time to understand patient needs, then connecting patients with the resources that fulfill those needs.

Healthcare Business Today features insights from Ryne Natzke, SVP of Growth and Strategy at Sphere.

Below is an excerpt:

With the COVID-19 pandemic exacting a substantial toll on medical practices’ revenues, savvy providers are searching for an edge that can help them stay competitive and build loyalty to retain patients.

In the wake of the pandemic, many providers were left reeling from the associated loss of revenue, reduction in patient volumes, and surging expenses. For example, in July and August, 81% of physicians in an American Medical Association survey said revenue was still lower than pre-pandemic, with an average revenue decline of 32%.

For many practices, patient engagement is that competitive edge. Engaging patients requires clinicians and staff to first take time and effort to understand patient needs, and then deliver to the patient the resources that meet those needs.

Read the full article here.

With the acquisition of Health iPASS in December of 2020, Sphere is placing a greater focus on leveraging their payment capabilities for the benefit of healthcare providers. Health iPASS is committed to creating better patient check-ins for better provider revenue, strengthened by the end-to-end patient payment support offered by Sphere. Health iPASS gets practices paid by going after those patient dollars that sometimes slip through the cracks, such as prior and residual balances and inconsistently collected copays. The best part? Health iPASS is able to do this in a way that improves the patient experience.

Taking the hassle out of health visits

The typical patient check-in and payment experience requires patients to arrive for their appointments 15 minutes early, wait in line, perhaps pay a copay, then take a clipboard back to the waiting area where they are asked to fill out any required paperwork. The patient can then expect to receive the bill for any services rendered weeks, even months later. According to HFMA, 60% of all patients never pay their bill after leaving the provider’s office through the traditional payment channels, stressing the need for better payment options pre-arrival and at the point of service. With the huge increase in patient responsibility, up 30% since 2015, providers must invest in the right tools to maximize clarity and boost patient payments.

How it works

Health iPASS delivers clear cost communication and enables patients to view and verify their insurance benefits, make payments, complete paperwork digitally, and even leave payment information on file for automatic payment of residual balances—all through their 100% mobile express check-in. They also offer self- or assisted check-in at the provider office for less tech-savvy patients. Here are just a few ways the Health iPASS platform can support pre-arrival, point of service and post-visit workflows:


  • Customized Express check-in for patients (any device, any time) including registration, insurance, payments, clinical forms and consents/policies
  • Real-time integration with Practice Management (PM) systems for schedule & demographics
  • Automated verification of insurance benefits
  • Pre check-in including pre-collection of prior balance, co-pays, etc.


  • Self-service or assisted check-in using iPad-based kiosks
  • In-clinic, mobile check-in & messaging sent to patient’s phone real-time
  • Streamline the check-in process to complete registration, insurance, payments and forms
  • Checkout process to provide transparency into cost of care and collect against patient estimates
  • Real-time posting of demographic changes, payments and images to EMR/PM*


  • Convenient text-to-pay and email-to-pay options with fully automated electronic billing (eStatements & eBills)
  • Electronic statements are automatically generated as soon as claim is adjudicated
  • Convenient auto-pay process using card-on-file obtained at check-in
  • Client-branded online payment portal for patients
  • Flexible, recurring payment plan options for large balances

Integrated with Sphere end-to-end

With Health iPASS, Sphere users can now enjoy the patient engagement, check-in and payment features of the platform. Health iPASS provides a one-step shop that does not require medical providers to interact with third-party payment processors. This integration also enables Health iPASS to provide seamless customer service for clients with one support number to call for any payment-related concerns. The combined efforts of Sphere and Health iPASS will lead to increased collection capabilities for providers and ultimately better health outcomes for patients.


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Health systems have been hard hit by the economic impact of COVID-19. Unfortunately, bad debt will rise for providers as patients prioritize their bills, oftentimes putting medical bills last.

Ryne Natzke, Vice President of Strategic Accounts and Healthcare at Sphere joined Vince Martino, Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder at VisitPay to discuss 3 ways to reduce cost and recover patient revenue during a recession.



Want to learn more about Sphere and VisitPay? Read Sphere’s interview with Vince Martino, Chief Product Officer  of VisitPay.