Skip to content

ACI Blog

A Prescription for Profitability: Real-Time Payments Come to Healthcare

Clearly, payments can have a large impact on the overall profitability of a hospital or physician network. Enter real-time payments, the first new payment network in 40 years. Just as credit cards helped usher in a period of convenience and simplicity in payments, real-time payments promise to change the world of payments in new and profitable ways. And with patients today growing more accustomed to immediate satisfaction, real-time payments satisfy the demand for instant confirmation and gratification, leading to greater patient satisfaction, loyalty, and reduced costs.

What are real-time payments?

Put simply, real-time payments are a new payment method that instantly takes money out of one bank account and deposits the money into another bank account, 24x7x365. This same transaction carries the payment and remittance data. These payments run on new rails and move money faster than same-day ACH and credit cards, and prevent ACH returns or chargebacks because they’re irrevocable.

For healthcare providers, this means improved collections, reduced time spent by staff matching payments to procedure, and most importantly happier patients.

Real-time real-life scenarios

Payer to Provider – Imagine receiving reimbursements from health insurers in an instant. What would that do for your bottom line? Real-time payments drastically cut payment times from payers to providers, and combine data and dollars in a single transaction to explain what the payment is for. Not only are you cutting collection time, but you’re also cutting reconciliation time as well.

Patients to Providers – Patients depend on healthcare to not only keep themselves healthy, but also their bank accounts. Real-time payments prevent bounced checks and give patients an accurate picture of how much money remains in their account. Providers benefit with increased collections at a lower cost. With patients wanting to pay in real-time, providers don’t want to turn down a payment – especially a payment that costs less than a credit card.

Providers to Patients – Driving greater patient satisfaction also revolves around more than just a quick and easy payment experience. Patients receiving refunds or reimbursements in real-time will ultimately be happier and more loyal too.

Real-time healthcare payments forecast

According to Lipis Advisors, real-time payments in healthcare will grow at more than 100% CAGR from 2018-2022.

In addition, it’s estimated that 25% of all online bill payments to providers and payers will be completed through real-time payment by 2022, led by ACH, debit card and check payments shifting to real-time networks. Of all real-time bill payments made in 2022, 33% will have previously been made by ACH and 27% by debit card, according to Lipis Advisors.

The switch to the real-time payment method is now a matter of when, not if, thus making it imperative that providers select vendors now who can support real-time payments. Getting it wrong could result in having to redo your payment systems within two years.

As new ways to pay offer a prescription for increased profits, read how new payment options enable you to collect 27% more revenue on our healthcare providers industry page.

1McKinsey; Patient loyalty: It’s up for grabs, Accenture Strategy, 2016

Head of Product Management

Mahala Johnson serves as Head of Product Management at ACI Worldwide. In this role Mahala leads product strategy for ACI’s bill payment solutions including ACI Speedpay and drives innovation for billing and payment solutions for several industries. Mahala has 20 years of product management experience in the financial services industry, including leadership roles at First Data, Western Union and eBay.