The payments industry has dramatically shifted over the past few years, and many people now choose to pay with a credit card, or an electronic wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay. Digital solutions like credit card processing for dental practices eliminates the overhead associated with paper invoices, and provides many benefits to dental practices and their patients.
The nuances of credit card processing for dental practices can be tough. Use this guide to get the basics on terminology, adherence to HIPAA, and reducing credit card fraud.
What Matters Most About Credit Card Processing for Dental Practices?
Choosing the right payment processor is an important step towards making sure your credit card processing is seamless and smooth. Some processors will offer lower fees, while others will tout the benefits their technology, and seamlessly integrating into websites and mobile applications. Other companies will offer better tech support, customer service and compliance with the requirements of this industry. Start by making a prioritized list of what will benefit your practice most.
A Few Key Advantages for Dental Practices
Credit card processing for dental practices is cost-effective. Most dental facilities are considered low risk, which means fees and other costs are going to be lower than for other types of businesses.
Additionally, you may not need a robust and expensive solution that a more technology or inventory-driven company might want. Retail stores require a fully functioning POS, complete with barcode scanners and other hardware, and possible integration with an ERP. Restaurant management systems require a robust POS that includes kitchen display systems and table service software.
You can avoid costly hardware, and smaller practices may begin with a simple countertop credit card machine or a virtual terminal that uses your existing computer and internet connection. Plan ahead though, as credit card processing for dental practices works best when it’s integrated with practice management systems. Besides better tracking, integration may enable HSA and FSA card acceptance, providing a market advantage over practices that refuse them.
What About HIPAA?
Many dentists worry HIPAA regulations and the associated fines for noncompliance when it comes to setting up a credit card processing systems. While it’s a good idea to review the general rules, you can rest assured that most credit card processing functions rest safely outside the myriad of HIPAA compliance regulations.
The vast majority of credit card processing companies are exempt from the HIPAA “business associate” agreement (where third-parties have to agree to safeguard patient information). This is because credit card companies do not have any access to patient data and are just seen as entities who are carrying out normal banking functions.
Where it gets murky is when your credit card processing company does more than just transaction processing. If their software includes invoicing or patient management, then HIPAA compliance might be required, and you’ll want to work with a payment processing company with the proper expertise.
Patient Data, HIPAA, and Credit Card Processing For Dental Practices
Never include patent health information in any communications with your payment processor. A common mistake would be to include notes about treatment or visits in the “comments” section on your virtual credit card processing terminal, so keep that data in a separate system.
As a precaution, ask your processor how they handle receipts, and what measures they do take to remain compliant with HIPAA. Some will let you print out paper receipts, while others just automatically send digital ones. Processors that evade questions about HIPAA regulations will likely lack the expertise or systems required to remain compliant.
Avoiding Credit Card Fraud
A fact of life with accepting credit cards is the risk for fraud. Many cybercriminals are on the hunt to exploit credit card holders for their own gain, and do not need a physical card in order to use it nefariously.
Start with maintaining PCI compliance to protect your patients’ payment information. The latest PCI DSS standards are available online, and a good payment processor will be able to guide you on any necessary steps to take.
Although processing credit cards at a dental practice is relatively low risk, it’s always a good idea to follow best practices. ID validation is common practice, and may be done when a patient registers for the first time. Ask your payment processor for additional guidance on payment processing and educate your staff on credit card authorization procedures. Keep in mind that an arduous process may turn off some patients, so try to strike an even balance in fraud prevention and customer service to reduce friction. The right policy enforcement will minimize fraud, and patents will have peace of mind that their valuable information is safe and secure.
Keep all of the above in mind as your dental practice accepts credit cards for processing. Not only will you provide patients with a convenient way to pay for services, but you can enact a plan that will help your business grow.