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INSIGHT

3 ways to more safely process patient payments and enhance overall security

By Paul Panos  bio

Today’s office managers face security concerns from all sides – from HIPAA compliance to PHI laws. Shouldn’t protecting financial data be the last thing on your mind? We’ve already explored in a previous article how the right payment processing technology can boost a practice’s profitability, but it can also enhance a practice’s level of security and give office managers peace of mind. Too many other industries – retail, dining, and banking to name a few – have suffered recent large scale data breaches against their vulnerable systems. Healthcare brings in approximately $442 billion a year, and data breaches could mean huge losses to your business. This is all the more reason to look for ways to better protect your patients’ information.

While payments companies do not access patient records or medical histories when processing transactions, the card data they are collecting can be compromised if placed in the wrong hands.

Consider these three ways to more safely process patient payments and enhance overall security:

Secure card datavaulting

Vaulting is a way to facilitate recurring and electronic billing safely. Traditional payment methods can be frustratingly slow. The practice can wait weeks or longer for insurance providers to approve reimbursement requests and for patients to pay outstanding balances. A vaulting mechanism can store patients’ credit card information via the web directly through the processor for the next time they visit the office or make a payment on a bill. Vaulting completely relieves the medical practice of the burden to secure that data themselves, instead placing the burden on the payments processor, while still providing the convenience and efficiency that comes with electronic billing.

Tokenization

The payments landscape today is increasingly multi-channel. Patients expect the option to choose the way they pay for their healthcare, and securely managing such a large scope of information exchange can be overwhelming. Tokenization can provide consistent protection of patient data in any environment – at the office, online, and even via mobile device for physicians on the go. The payments processor assigns the patients’ credit card a random “token,” or series of ‘incomprehensible’ characters that minimize the exposure points to the actual card number. In simple terms, credit card 4444 3333 2222 1111 would be tokenized as A12BD33BDLB349BOeOIKL338 – a sequence that holds no value for a fraudster. Rather than exchanging direct patient card data, a processor and medical office can pass tokens to minimize visibility into an account.

Fraud protection

Through fraud enforcement and protection initiatives the Departments of Justice and HHS have recovered more than $19.2 billion in the last five years alone. Strict penalties against health care abuse make fraud protection all the more imperative.

Health care providers should seek out payments processors with advanced fraud prevention capabilities that recognize fraudulent transactions in real-time (during the authorization) based on numerous parameters like (but not limited to) IP geo-location, device id recognition, known fraudulent addresses, disposable emails, among other criteria.

The challenge of managing a more secure medical office is not one that will be conquered overnight. Taking small steps, however, to change the way you accept and manage patient payments can have a huge impact on your practice’s profitability, efficiency, and security. When it’s time to reevaluate your payments partner, look closely at the added protective features the right processor can bring your office and patients.


Paul Panos is Vice President at SecureNet Payment Systems, an Austin-based end-to-end payments platform processing billions in transactions a year. Paul works closely with healthcare providers to streamline their payments solutions and has over 15 years of payment industry experience.


The above information is shared by a guest contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Medical Office Manager.

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