By Jonathan McAlees
The world of credit card processing and merchant services can be a tricky industry to navigate. As you transition from student to opening a practice, a key factor to consider is how you are going to get paid. Aside from the many financial decisions you will be faced with, such as whether or not to have a cash based practice or to accept insurance, you need to provide your patients convenient ways to make payments. Today, in addition to cash, checks or ACH, most patients will pay with a major credit or debit card.
With more than seven years of experience within the payment processing industry and coming from a long family lineage of three generations of chiropractors, I understand chiropractic. I get asked all the time, with countless options, “How do you choose the right payment processor?”
When you come out of chiropractic school and are just getting started, you are trained on how to adjust and the philosophy of chiropractic but not how to manage finances or deal with weeding through the many options of which third party banks or processors to choose. You want to select a credit card processor who can be a true partner and solution that will allow you to serve your community and deliver true principled chiropractic care to your patients.
Back in the 60’s, my father suffered a debilitating injury and ultimately ended up seeing a chiropractor. Chiropractic saved his life! My father later became a chiropractor, and married into a large chiropractic family. In an effort to help my brother, who is also a chiropractor, we built a cloud-based payment processing system specifically around the functionality of a chiropractic practice.
Here are a few essential tips to keep in mind when choosing a credit card processing partner. Don’t be persuaded by your bank or credit union offering the option to buy expensive credit card terminals cost ing anywhere from $250-$800, or even worse, leasing equipment for a few years that ends up costing $1,000 – $2,800+. Instead, you can save money and get started with a $17 USB swiper you can purchase from Amazon.
As you proceed with caution, the last thing you want is to get blindsided by hidden fees. Select a processor that will help guide you along the way with transparent pricing programs and competitive rates to best suit your practice. Don’t get locked into a contract with sign up or cancellation fees.
You want to look for “plug and play” options that are seamless by adopting integrated payments that connect directly with your patient management system (EHR) which will allow payments to auto-post to the patient’s ledger optimizing time spent focusing on patient care.
Now more than ever, the capability to safely, and compliantly store cards to protect you against receiving fines up to $5,000 per card if you were to improperly store this information is invaluable. Select a software with a stored card vault that offers time saving features like the ability to run one-time payments and automate future auto-debit (recurring) payments with the option to adjust dates, skip, defer or hold payments.
Especially within a family practice, you want patients to be focused on their health and wellness versus how they are going to pay for the entire family. Accommodate your patients with a system that allows you to share a credit card across family member accounts or any other associated account; or to split a one-time or auto-debit (recurring) payment to post to multiple patients’ ledgers.
Additionally, as financial conversations with patients can be difficult, you want to avoid awkward conversations if an auto debit payment declines. Instead of wasting time chasing payments, choose a system that emails an invoice on your behalf, the patient can pay from their phone or home, and update the card on file for future recurring payments.
As the future of contactless payments only becomes more prevalent, providing patients the convenience to pay from home or anywhere outside of the practice with features like a mobile app (Android and Apple Pay), custom hosted pay pages and quick e-invoicing are essential.
The future success of your practice will be built on the foundation of garnering strong relationships with your patients and being their number one resource for health and wellness. As you expand your practice’s offerings with additional services (e.g. weight loss, functional medicine, stem cell, etc.) and products or even adding associates, you want the ability to handle payments for multiple types of businesses with multi-deposit accounts providing you with the peace of mind knowing the funds are being allocated automatically to the right account all in one convenient system.
Most importantly, don’t go at it alone, make sure you have access to live, expert white glove customer service and support to help you every step of the way. Make sure chiropractic comes first and let your credit card processing system handle the rest.
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About the Author
FortisPay Chiropractic (FPC), Co-Founder, Jonathan McAlees, has more than seven years of experience in payment processing. Prior to FPC, Jonathan spent nine years in corporate finance at Wells Fargo along with an extensive background in technology and software development. Jonathan comes from a long family lineage of chiropractors and therefore has a rich family history of chiropractic philosophy. There are three generations of chiropractors in his family starting with his Great Uncle Dr. Sid Nathanson, a founding member of Life University, to his father, uncles, aunts and his brother. Jonathan utilized his vast knowledge in chiropractic, along with the best and brightest minds in chiropractic to design a cloud-based credit card processing system specifically for chiropractors to support streamlining processes, increasing efficiency and collections.