Weave recently commissioned an independent survey of 750 healthcare professionals and clients in hopes of better understanding how practices and patients are coping with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly discovered that patients are especially likely to delay care such as elective surgeries, eye exams, and dental cleanings.

Dental office managers shouldn’t give up on their clientele during difficult times. Instead, they can learn from practices that are successfully negotiating the new normal. Of the providers interviewed, 48% of them said their practice has improved its quality of care due to the pandemic. Offices can improve their customer service by adding contactless payment options.

The top ways of going no-touch mentioned in our survey are reducing patients in the office, spacing out appointments, and adopting mobile payments. Reducing patients in the office and spacing out appointments are best handled with integrated communication networks and effective scheduling software.

Proper social distancing is made easy with a diverse array of payment processing solutions. This article discusses how dental office managers can use a complete payment platform to improve the patient experience in the new normal.

Offer contactless options

What are the alternatives to traditional payment and credit card processing? The mobile payments we mentioned in the introduction. 65% of healthcare practices say their clients have requested paying with a contactless (or touchless, or no-touch, or mobile, or digital) option. Popular contactless payment options include mobile wallets and text payments.

text payment link reminder to patient

Mobile wallets are now available from a number of tech companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung. If your practice is listed as a merchant with a mobile wallet service provider, it can use mobile payments to reinforce social distancing. Weave has designed a contactless option called Text to Pay that lets office managers send text payment requests to customers following appointments.

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Text to Pay Enables Faster & Paperless Billing

" Weave Payments has replaced the majority of our monthly billing statements. And since we can bill patients directly through text, we save a huge amount of time billing them as soon as their balance is available, rather than spending three days a month billing in bulk. "

-Cambria, Office Manager, Cercek Dental

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Embrace a high-growth mindset

Those healthcare providers that consider themselves “high-growth” were significantly more likely to say Text to Pay improves the patient experience than those in the “low-growth” category. High-growth practices were 40% more likely to embrace Text to Pay as a tool for making their patients more comfortable.

How does Text to Pay improve the client experience? It lets your office focus on essential services during appointments instead of worrying about payments and other paperwork. Once patients get the healthcare they need, they don’t have to stop at your front desk for payment processing. Your office manager or their assistants can send a payment request by text with a link to a payment portal.

Maximize your text potential

In the past, payments have been handled with mailed bills, emailed notifications, and in-person processing. These options are still readily available, but text payments have diversified the way healthcare practices are taking care of merchant services. According to our survey, only 18% of providers believe they are using text messages to their fullest potential.

A text payment option works in conjunction with other text messaging to provide your dental office with good social distancing. Curbside waiting rooms can be established with texts, and your practice can share wellness for screening patients for potential infection. Text payments save administrative teams from violating social distancing along with review requests and an assortment of appointment reminders, confirmations, and general two-way texting.

Provide a variety of payment options

If your office is hoping to demonstrate its commitment to social distancing, it’s going to need to employ a number of different approaches for creating a safe environment for patients. In our survey, the top ways healthcare clients want to go “no-touch” are credit card tap options, mobile payments, and plexiglass dividers.

Credit card tap options alleviate customers of the need to swipe or insert their card using a potentially dirty payment terminal. Mobile payments, which we have discussed at some length already, go beyond tap options and get rid of physical transactions altogether. Plexiglass dividers are increasingly popular and are a simple, if flawed, way to protect employees from exposure to infected individuals.

Acknowledge risk

Your dental practice doesn’t need to ignore client concerns surrounding payments. It should acknowledge them and show its commitment to patient safety by finding new ways to handle payment processing. 43% of clients say it’s riskier to touch a payment portal in a healthcare setting than most other public settings.

Adopting a complete payment platform will allow dental managers to acknowledge fears about payment processing while simultaneously offering solutions. Those customers that have no issue with traditional cash, checks, and cards can continue paying for services the old-school way. Those patients hoping for maximized social distancing and minimized risk can switch to either a mobile wallet or a contactless option like Text to Pay.

Transition to contactless payments

Helping your staff and clients transition to contactless payment options is a gradual, yet worthwhile process. 67% of healthcare practices want their credit card payments to switch to a contactless option like Text to Pay. Once your office has a complete payment platform on board, it’s much easier to transition away from credit cards.

A complete payment platform will still allow you to accept major credit card brands (Visa, AmericanExpress, Discover, MasterCard) and types (credit, debit, HSA/FSA, prepaid). A complete payment platform also lets your office begin flipping patients to contactless payers by asking them to pay with a mobile wallet or by sending them a text payment request.

Emphasize patient hygiene

Dental practices aren’t only supposed to enforce masks and promote social distancing during the pandemic. There’s a renewed emphasis on hygienic practices like frequent handwashing and sanitizing of commonly-shared surfaces. 51% of healthcare providers say Text to Pay is more hygienic than other payment processing options.

Office managers can provide the most hygienic payment options by first acquiring a complete payment platform. With a variety of payment options available, offices can clean terminals when customers insist on using cash, checks, and cards. Otherwise, contactless payments are considerably more hygienic and demonstrate your practice’s commitment to safety.

Be future-oriented

Text communication seems to be the focus of healthcare practices in the near future. 68% of the providers in our survey said the majority of their outgoing patient communication will be via text in the next three years. Your payment processing should match the trend toward increased communication over text messaging.

Text messaging is especially popular among the younger generation of clients. Patients under the age of 35 are twice as difficult to reach over the phone as older clients. By adopting a text payment option, your practice is preparing to collect payments from an entire generation that’s been conditioned to prefer text messages and smartphone options in general.

Clean the payment terminal

Healthcare practices have been extra cautious about community spread in the last six months or so. 69% of the providers in our survey said they’re cleaning payment terminals after each transaction. Although this safety measure follows the guidelines set forth by governments and public health officials, it creates a lot of work for your employees.

Wiping down the terminal after each transaction also exposes your team to greater threat of contagion. This level of exposure is commonplace for those swiping and inserting credit cards, as well as payments involving cash or checks. These types of payments, known as traditional payment methods, are rapidly becoming outdated and problematic approaches to payment processing for modern dentist offices.

Payment processing with Weave Payments

This guide has covered some of the key statistics from our recent survey of healthcare providers and their clients. Dental managers hoping to make payment processing simpler, safer, and more secure should consider Weave Payments. A complete payment platform, Weave Payments allows dental practices to incorporate all of the above tips into their office’s merchant services.

Weave Payments lets your customers pay the way they want to, even as your office is pushing for contactless payments that will protect employees and customers from the threat of the pandemic. The absence of upfront and monthly fees saves managers from worrying about surprise charges, and payment processing powered by Stripe assures transactions are secure.

Text to Pay might be the most powerful feature in Weave Payments. It empowers your office to move past in-person payments altogether, doubling down on customer freedom and social distancing measures. Text to Pay is an easy-peasy payment option for dental managers looking for the best ways to handle payments in the new normal.

Contact us today to find out how Weave Payments and Text to Pay can revolutionize the way your dental office handles credit card processing, payment processing, and merchant services.