You Don't Take Plastic? Fewer Physician Practices Accepting Credit Cards

A recent study shows that 33% of Physician Offices Do Not Accept Credit Cards.  According to the study, this is a 5% increase over the results of a 2008 survey asking the same question.  The study also suggests "doctor offices are limiting this form of payment as a result of their patients being adversely affected by high interest rates, maxed out credit limits and a more challenging ability to qualify for credit."

I believe a better reason for the increase in practices not accepting credit cards is that the
 practices themselves are struggling financially and are looking for ways to improve the bottom line.  When you're being charged for every transaction to run a credit card, those fees may add up.  Every practice is looking for expenses to cut, but be careful of how difficult you make it for a patient to pay off their balance. Like any business, patients decide which physician they want to see based a number of things including convenience.  When it becomes inconvenient to pay, many patients just won't.  That's why online bill-pay solutions have been so successful and have a proven ROI.  

HIMSS Publishes "Meaningful Use" Definition

Since the HITECH Act was passed, the majority of discussions around the stimulus funds have been around the phrase "meaningful use".  Of course "meaningful use" of an EHR will determine the eligibility of an organization to be a recipient of stimulus funds in the form of Medicare or Medicaid incentive checks.  HIMSS believes that the definition will evolve, and in it's final stages will consist of four key attributes:
  • A functional EHR certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technologh (CCHIT);
  • Electronic exchange of standardized patient data with clinical and administrative stakeholders using the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel's (HITSP) interoperability specifications and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise's (IHE) frameworks;
  • Clinical decision support providing clinicians with clinical knowledge and intelligently-filtered patient information to enhance patient care; and
  • Capabilities to support process and care measurement that drive improvements in patient saftey, quality outcomes and cost reductions.
An electronic health record will be considered a "meaningful" product when it allows for electronic prescribing, electronic exchange of health information, and includes features for clinical decision support.