Use of Point of Sale Terminals by Ambulance Services

A point of sale terminal is an electronic device used to process card payments from a customer to a provider. The point of sale terminal is typically used to process payments made with either a credit or debit card.

These terminals are becoming more readily available to small business owners, and are increasingly mobile, compact, and user friendly.

Essentially, a point of sale terminal can now operate using your local cellular network signal, meaning that the terminal conveniently does not need a physical connection to a network, and can be used at a hospital, or even the customer’s’ home or workplace.

Customers are increasingly aware of the need to be safety conscious, leading to them carrying minimal amounts of cash on their person. With the ambulance accounts increasing year on year, the majority of South African consumers will not have the required amount of cash easily available to pay for an ambulance account. In addition, it may be difficult for customers to pay the full value of the ambulance account in one payment.

With these concerns in mind, ambulance operators may choose to allow customers to process account payments via either a debit or credit card. This alleviates the security risk and inconvenience of the customer needing a large amount of cash available to pay the ambulance account at the time of settlement. Payment via a credit card has the added benefit of allowing the provider to assist the customer to make payment using the budget facility, which allows the ambulance service practice to receive full payment in advance, while the customer will pay off the account with their banking institution over a predetermined period – such as 6 months, for example.

While payment via a point of sale terminal has its conveniences, it is important to remember that this option should only be offered to patients when it is ethically appropriate to do so.

A point of sale terminal should not be used to force a patient to pay for services immediately after transportation, especially when the patient may be in urgent need of emergency treatment at a hospital. Rather, a point of sale terminal should be used as a convenient facility for both the ambulance service provider as well as the patient to settle the account owing in a dignified and efficient manner.

Ambulance services should also ensure that their staff members have all received appropriate training in the correct use of the point of sale terminal and safe storage of the unit, as well as manual issuing of receipts once a payment is processed from the customer to the ambulance service provider.

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