RobMorrisPix.jpg (10309 bytes)CareCredit, founded in 1987, is headquartered in Anaheim, Calif, and handles the patient financing services for more than 40,000 health care professionals and their 1 million patients across a variety of medical specialties. The Hearing Review recently spoke with Rob Morris, the company’s president, about patient financing, technology, and other topics.

What is the background of CareCredit?
We were originally part of a healthcare manufacturing company. Our customers, the healthcare providers, observed that their patients sometimes had to say “no” to their recommended professional services and products because of cost. In order to help the provider increase treatment acceptance, the company designed a provider and patient friendly financing plan that met both parties’ needs. This became CareCredit.

How does the CareCredit plan work?
It is simple and quick. The short, easy patient application can be processed by telephone, fax, automated telephone, and online. The credit decision is completed within 10 seconds. The practice and patient can start care that day. The practice receives its fees electronically in two business days. The patient receives optimal care and technology immediately, without delay. We handle the patient financing services for a variety of medical specialties ranging from dentistry to ophthalmology to audiology. Our patient financing programs are endorsed by over 35 professional associations, societies, and practice management consultants. We are also a G.E. Consumer Finance Company, one of the biggest financial institutions in the United States.

What are the advantages of CareCredit for hearing care professionals?
CareCredit offers a complete offering of patient plans including 3, 6, and 12 month interest free financing and, if patients need more time to pay, 24, 36, and 48 month low interest plans. This offering benefits the hearing care professional because interest free attracts more patients to the practice and results in a greater acceptance of optimal care and technology resulting in happier patients, fewer returns, and more referrals. The application process is fast and simple so the staff can stay focused on important issues like patient relations and service. The average patient is reluctant to ask about financing. We recommend that CareCredit be presented alongside check/cash and Visa/MasterCard. This presentation strategy eliminates patient decision delays, and allows the patient to accept the hearing care professional’s optimal care and technology recommendations, which may require higher-end hearing aids. Additionally, CareCredit removes the temptation to bill.

Getting paid in two business days sure beats 90+ days. The average hearing care professional did not go to school to be a banker. This gets them out of the banking business. Along with improved, predictable cash flow, CareCredit is a non-recourse program—if the patient delays payment or defaults, there is no impact on the practice. Additionally, we offer free training for the dispensing professional and staff. We are also available whenever there is staff turnover. Training can be conducted via the telephone or in person, and we supply every practice with free, high-quality hearing-specific promotional materials. These include point-of-sale, patient brochures, and presentation tools.

What are the advantages for patients?
When patients are approved for CareCredit, they can accept all of the payment options that the dispensing professional decides to offer. Terms and rates are the same for everyone, and there are no surprises for either the patient or dispenser. Also, since CareCredit is a revolving credit plan, the patient can add on charges (ALDs, repairs, batteries, etc) without reapplying.

What trends do you see in the industry right now, and how is your company responding to them?
The audiological market has a growing need for patient financing because of the aging of Baby Boomers. This demographic group appreciates credit and interest-free financing. Another trend towards better, yet more expensive, digital technology and the newer surgical procedures means patient financing is more important and relevant than ever before.

What role, if any, does technology play in
your company?
We have always welcomed the latest technology because we feel it offers benefits to our customers and their patients. The biggest technological impact is with the patient application process. The practice staff can, in addition to the telephone, use a simplified and quick online application. This benefit is also available for the patient in case the practice wants the patient to apply directly. Regardless of the application method chosen by the practice, CareCredit uses an instant credit decision technology that completes the patient’s credit decision in 10 seconds or less. Everything is completed before the patient leaves the practice, allowing for total control during the entire practice/patient interface. There is also a direct deposit process to pay electronically in two days, instead of 7-10 days for a mailed check. And with our Automated Phone Application, the staff or applicant calls an 800 number and follows prompts. Credit decisions are given almost immediately, and recommended care can start that day.