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.

Watch

 

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

By Dr. Heather Mark, CCEP

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudulent activity and scams have been on the rise.  As a result, scammers are looking for ways to test their stolen card information.  One way they do that is to find portals or e-commerce sites that have payment forms and use those forms to “test” cards.  This is done by running hundreds or thousands of small transactions to see if they will be authorized.  If these small transactions are authorized, the criminals assume the card is “good.”  Meanwhile, the merchant may not know that this has happened until an expensive invoice is received for those “auths.”

In order to combat these types of scams, here are three ways merchants with an internet presence can mitigate their risk proactively:

  • Implement CAPTCHA – CAPTCHA is an easy test that users take on web-based forms to prove that they are not a “bot.” These may include simple math questions or identifying pictures from an array.  This simple step allows merchants to filter out bad actors and helps to ensure that their payment site is not being misused.
  • Use TC CrediGuard TC CrediGuard is a product offered by Sphere that allows merchants to set parameters for certain transaction patterns. Merchants can set TC CrediGuard to deny transactions based on a set of predetermined criteria.  For example, a merchant may set parameters to deny transactions after five attempts from the same IP address within 7 minutes.  Or, if the IP address of a bad actor is known, a merchant may block that specific IP address.
  • Add a Log-in Screen – Payment forms that reside in front of a log-in page may be more convenient for your customers, patients, or donors, but it can also make it easier for criminals to use that payment screen as a tool for testing card numbers.  By adding a log in screen, you create a barrier that may protect your business from becoming a target for these types of schemes.

By implementing these recommendations, merchants can take significant steps towards mitigating the likelihood of a Primary Account Number (PAN) or Card Testing event.

To learn more about secure online payment solutions and fraud reduction tools, please contact a Solutions Consultant at 800.915.1680, option 2 or sales@spherecommerce.com.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 governmentcity 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 cardpresent transactions is top of mindContactless 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 capabilitiesWhile 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 cardThere’s no need to have pens available for customers to use to signThis 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.  

Wrap Up 

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. Its 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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:

  1. How do they enable payments to their solution with the least amount of development effort
  2. How do they enable payments in a way that does not interrupt the user experience, keeping the same look, feel and flow
  3. How do they enable payments across multiple acceptance use cases
  4. 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 servicesIn 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 optionThese include 

  • Virtual Terminal – secure, web-based application that lets you enter in credit card and ACH details manually. 
  • Hostepayment 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

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.

 

This is a guest post from our non-profit partner Qgiv

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations work day and night to ensure they offer the best service and medical experience for everyone involved. Because health organizations are often busy with a never-ending flow of patients and high-intensity tasks, they often don’t have time to really think about their own needs.

That is why healthcare fundraising is crucial for health organizations. Running a medical-based organization takes an incredible amount of resources. You need a great fundraising program in order to support your foundation’s philanthropic goals, serving your community and staff.  

Sphere is proud to partner with Qgiv and is working toward making fundraising accessible and meaningful for health organizations. With Qgiv’s comprehensive fundraising platform, healthcare fundraisers can oversee the entire donation process, engage with past patients and active supporters, and boost their overall fundraising revenue.

Ensure your health organization has all the resources it needs! Here are some ways you can use Qgiv to supplement your healthcare team’s fundraising efforts; you can:

  • Securely process online donations.
  • Engage donors with peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Invite top supporters to a hospital fundraising gala.
  • Motivate giving with text fundraising.
  • Easily oversee capital campaigns.

Read on to learn about how you can take advantage of Qgiv’s software and increase fundraising for your health organization. Let’s get started!

Securely process online donations.

These days, offering online donations is more of a necessity than a nice bonus. According to PewResearch, 90% of Americans are active Internet users—your potential donors are active on the Internet! Additionally, the last thing on your patrons’ minds is making a stop at the donation office to drop off a check while they’re in your hospital. An online donation might be the only way they’d make a gift.

With fundraising software like Qgiv, processing online donations and gifts have never been easier. You can customize the online donation form to a specific campaign and even brand it to your health organization with your unique colors and your logo.

With these other features, your online donation form will encourage donors to complete that donation:

  • Easy-to-use form builder. You don’t have to be a coder to create the perfect donation form for your healthcare organization. The form builder makes it easy to customize your donation form so you always get critical donor information without wasting your donor’s time with unnecessary fields.
  • Recurring gift options. Donors often want to thank your health organization in a generous way, but can’t afford to do so all at once. Include a recurring gifts option so donors can space out their contributions in a way that’s convenient for them. Recurring donations have the added benefit of providing is consistent, predictable support for your health organization.
  • Suggested giving amounts. This is a great way to inspire your donors to give a little more than they might have originally. Sometimes, a potential donor won’t know exactly how much to donate, get overwhelmed trying to make a choice, and end up closing the window without making a gift. Offer a few suggested giving amounts with associated impact statements to help them decide how much to give and show them what their money can achieve.
  • GiftAssist. When someone makes an online donation, the nonprofit has to pay a processing fee. With Qgiv’s GiftAssist, donors can choose to offset that fee by adding a couple of dollars to their gift. This is a popular option! Right now, around 55% of donors make this additional gift if their favorite nonprofit gives them the opportunity.
  • Secure payment processing. You can use Qgiv and Sphere payment solutions together for safe, secure payments. Qgiv was the first online fundraising software to become Level 1 PCI Compliant, so you know your donors’ financial information is in safe hands.  Qgiv’s top-notch security is reinforced by their streamlined forms that can be branded to match your individual nonprofit.

Qgiv not only gives you the tools to create the online donation form that suits your efforts best, it also empowers your donors with multiple fundraising options and facilitates them in a safe and secure way.

Engage donors with peer-to-peer fundraising.

A great way for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to raise support is to run a peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) campaign. A P2P campaign is especially great for healthcare organizations that engage volunteers; each volunteer likely has their own personal story about how they’re connected to your institution. Let your supporters express this to their own network of friends and family and fundraise on your health organization’s behalf!

Though you can technically conduct P2P campaigns without any outside tools, most nonprofit organizations will invest in a platform specifically for these efforts. With a fundraising solution like Qgiv, you also have access to their top peer-to-peer features. When you use their peer-to-peer platform, you can:

  • Give each P2P volunteer their own branded online donation page. Customize these pages to fit your overall campaign, then let each volunteer add their own photos, testimonials, and stories about why your health organization and fundraiser is important to them. This way, their own friends and family instantly feel more connected to your cause because they share a personal link to your work.
  • Encourage more fundraising with gamification elements. Qgiv gives you the tools to motivate your volunteer fundraisers, including a leaderboard showing top fundraisers, fundraising thermometers, fundraising badges, and more. When P2P volunteers see how close they are to being first in the leaderboard or see how much money is left until your end goal, they’re encouraged to stay active in the fundraising process.
  • Each P2P volunteer can easily share their individual fundraising page on social media and can even schedule posts in advance. You can make sharing on social media even easier for your participants; Qgiv provides the option to built pre-written social post templates that can be tweaked and published by individual users.
  • Monitor all fundraising activities from one central platform. Qgiv’s control panel allows you to oversee your fundraising participants, their teams, and your progress in real-time.

Empower your supporters by letting them fundraise for you. Just ask VISTE! VISTE, Volunteers in Service to the Elderly, is an organization that helps the elderly travel to doctor appointments, provides in-home meals and food, and more. With Qgiv’s tools, they were able to raise around $30,000 during their last peer-to-peer campaign.

Invite top supporters to a hospital fundraising gala.

Hospitals and other health organizations often host live fundraising galas in order to raise awareness for a cause, collect money for a project, announce an exciting change, or recognize their top donors.

But managing registration, planning the gala festivities, and ensuring each guest is properly engaged, can make event preparation a long and difficult process.

Take the stress out of planning and managing your hospital fundraising gala with Qgiv’s event management software. Consider how these top features can elevate your fundraising gala:

  • A variety of registration options to meet the needs of all your supporters. Let people register in groups (like for a family) or as individuals! You can also create certain packages for guests registering as a table and even offer discounts and promo codes to top supporters.
  • Social sharing options on your event form. Make it easy for potential guests to share your event with their friends and family.
  • Easily-incorporated auction features with Qgiv’s auction tool. By including a silent auction element in your gala, you can auction off interesting items and let your guests bid in real-time (from their phones). Qgiv’s mobile app makes it easy to streamline the registration, check-in, and post-auction checkout process.

A live fundraising event is a great way to bring together your supporters and donors and remind them of the good your healthcare organization has accomplished! Make sure you have all the necessary tools to plan this quickly and efficiently.

Motivate giving with text fundraising.

One of the best ways to increase fundraising for any nonprofit organization is to provide multiple giving channels for different groups of donors. A popular channel includes mobile solutions for giving. Another PewResearch study found that 96% of Americans own mobile phones. A vast majority of people have near-constant access to mobile phones and are highly likely to use a tool like mobile giving.

Qgiv has dedicated software to make text fundraising and mobile giving as easy as possible for nonprofit fundraisers and donors alike. Your healthcare organization can take advantage of different types of text fundraising that Qgiv supports:

  1. Text-to-Donate: This simple donation method involves donors initiating a gift via texting a campaign keyword to a designated shortcode. Donors enter the amount they want to give and are presented with a link to a mobile form to officially complete the gift.
  2. Outbound Text Messages: Outbound text messaging is a powerful way to make urgent requests, share information about upcoming events, remind donors to finish their mobile gift, or provide updates on a fundraising campaign. Qgiv’s outbound text messaging tool makes it easy to build and manage lists so you can reach the right donors at the right time.
  3. Bill-to-Carrier Text Donations. This traditional text giving style involves a donor sending a keyword to a text shortcode. Instead of finishing their transaction on a mobile donation form, the predetermined donation amount is billed to the donor’s cell phone bill. Later, their carrier transfers the donation to the charitable organization.

Text-based mobile fundraising is not only simple to set up but also gives your donors a chance to give wherever and whenever they want to.

Easily facilitate capital campaigns.

Hospitals and other health organizations often need to raise money for larger projects like building renovations or new medical tech. Those large campaigns usually require large-scale fundraising efforts that involve more than just a simple online donation page. This is where capital campaigns come in.

A capital campaign is a focused effort to raise a sizable amount of money within a certain timeframe. This type of campaign usually funds high-cost changes that will help your organization run more efficiently and continue to offer the highest quality services. It often takes years to reach a capital campaign’s fundraising goal.

Capital campaigns typically include multiple fundraising efforts, including events, online and offline fundraising, and text-fundraising channels. That is why a comprehensive solution like Qgiv might be the best choice for this kind of large-scale campaign. Your healthcare organization can integrate the software with your CRM and:

  • Capture the necessary donor information. Using your online donation forms, event registration pages, and other giving methods, you can accurately record each donation with the appropriate details alongside it. You’ll gradually build a list of people who supported this capital campaign, which will leave you plenty of opportunities for future engagement. For instance, prioritize engagements with those who gave substantial gifts to see if they could be cultivated into becoming major gifts donors.
  • Keep up communication with donors. As the campaign progresses, use the donor data in your CRM to continue donor engagements, including thank-you messaging, progress updates, and more. You can even send them matching gift information if you think their gift can be doubled by their employer.
  • Vary your fundraising efforts. Get creative with your capital campaign! You can conduct peer-to-peer campaigns, start a mobile fundraiser, and even host an auction! No matter what you choose to do, all that data will be safely centralized in your CRM to review it whenever you want.
  • Review campaign progress in real-time. Use Qgiv to create custom reports and track specific statistics so you can see how you’re doing as the campaign progresses. You can also use Qgiv’s FundHub tool to aggregate data from individual campaign events, donation forms, text keywords, and more. Getting a birds-eye view of all your fundraising activity will help you identify areas to improve and track which methods are performing best.

With Qgiv on your side, you’ll be able to successfully manage your entire capital campaign from one place and easily pinpoint areas for improvement or of success. Reach your fundraising goal and help your capital campaign objective come to fruition with this comprehensive solution.

By Dr. Heather Mark, CCEP

The data economy has become so pervasive in today’s business that it sometimes is necessary to pause and think about where we’d be without the explosion of data that businesses have at their disposal.  Cloud software firm, Domo, releases an annual report each year on the astronomical growth of data.  Their report, Data Never Sleeps, provides a fascinating example of just how people are using the internet, leaving digital trails to be followed.  According to Data Never Sleeps 7.0, more than 511,200 tweets, 18, 100,00 texts, and 188,000,000 emails are sent PER MINUTE. And that doesn’t include our unintentional data creation – the Internet of Things, or our browsing history, or geolocation data. Our world runs on data, which means that as consumers, we need to be able to trust that our data won’t be misused by the companies with which we do business.

A PwC survey conducted in 2017, tells us that consumers are becoming more cynical about how companies handle data.  Just 25% of survey respondents believe that companies handle data responsibly and less than 15% believe that the data will be used to improve lives. Further, 87% of those respondents have said that they will take their business elsewhere if they don’t trust the data handling practices of a company.

In Francis Fukuyama’s book, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity, he proposed the idea that trust and ethics was central to economic well-being.  “If people who have to work together in an enterprise trust one another because they are all operating according to a common set of ethical norms, doing business costs less…”  It costs less because we know that our colleagues and our partners will behave in ways that we expect, and that serve the good of the organization.  Similarly, as consumers, we are more likely to do business with organizations that we trust.

An essential element of trust is transparency. Again, referencing the PwC survey, 71% of consumers find the privacy policies posted by companies to be difficult to understand.  If a consumer believes that an organization is intentionally obfuscating its practices, trust erodes.  When trust erodes, consumers say they will take their business elsewhere.

The moral of the story here is that as we move more fully into the data economy, we must also move more fully into being trustworthy stewards of personal data.  We do that, by adhering to the letter and the spirit of the data protection laws and establishing strong information practices.  Some of those practices include:

  • Data Flow and Categorization – It sounds cliché, but you can’t protect what you don’t know you have. So, the first step that is typically suggested is doing a data flow or data mapping.  This helps you to determine where the date is coming from, how it’s being used, and who you might be sharing it with.  You may find that you’re collecting more data than you need, or that you’re sharing it with vendors that don’t need it.
  • Limit Collection of Data – Another old axiom in the data security and privacy business is “don’t collect what you don’t need.” To put it simply, it’s difficult to disclose or inappropriately use data that you don’t have.  Once you’ve done a data mapping exercise, you can review this with your team to determine which data is strictly needed as opposed to “nice to have.”  Moreover, many of the fair information practices are built on the notion of only collecting the data that you need to complete transaction with the individual.
  • Disclosures – Transparency with your constituency about what data you’re collecting and when, and how it’s being used is one of the simplest, but most important, steps that can be taken with respect to privacy. Visitors to your site, and consumers of your product or services, can’t make informed decisions about sharing their data if they don’t understand how that data might be used. Providing clear and concise information about your information practices helps to engender trust and stands you in good stead with legislative privacy regimes.
  • Awareness and Training – In today’s economy, most of our businesses and non-profits run on data. Whether we intend to or not, we become dependent on data transmission, data analysis, data storage, and data collection.  That means that everyone in our organization is going to encounter personal data at some point.  Given that fact, it’s important that your team knows what data is considered sensitive, and how that data is to be treated. An important part of training, that can be easy to overlook, is how to report a potential incident.  For example, what should be done if someone has emailed a payment account number?

The dilemma facing businesses today is encapsulated nicely in the January 2019 issue of the Frontier Technology Quarterly:

On one hand, the data economy is radically transforming many economic activities and creating new levels of prosperity. On the other, it presents the possibility of a perilous dystopia … A market economy cannot function without trust, and the data economy is no exception. Trust deficits can unravel the data market and undermine social cohesion, stability and peace.

 

The Sphere teams will be out and about at a variety of payments and industry events. Stop by and see us! Learn more about our end-to-end integrated payment solutions, security software, payments gateway and merchant acquiring products and services.

HFMA Symposium Region 10

January 12-15, 2020 | Las Vegas

 

 

WRUG Winter Conference

February 20-21, 2020 | San Diego

HIMSS20

March 9-13, 2020 | Orlando

Visit us at Booth #2488

Parking Industry Exhibition

March 22-25, 2020 | San Diego

OCHIN Learning Forum

April 27-29, 2020 | Portland