The survey finds that 52% of patients would rather receive medical bills and statements electronically, but about 90% of physician groups still print and mail out paper bills.

More patients want to be billed electronically by their doctor for services rendered, but physicians still overwhelmingly send paper bills, says a new survey from the Medical Group Management Association.

The survey finds that 52% of patients would rather receive medical bills and statements electronically, but about 90% of physician groups still print and mail out paper bills. The survey of 500 group practices and 1,000 consumers was conducted by the Medical Group Management Association and medical payments processor and software developer Navicure Inc. between January and May.

“A comparison of our recent studies indicates a strong need for digital payment options to improve patient collections processes and increase patient satisfaction,” says Navicure chief marketing officer Phil Dolan. “The organizations that can fully embrace digital payment options, such as credit card on file, automated payment plans and patient cost estimation, stand to benefit the most as healthcare consumerism continues to impact the industry.”

More than three-fourths of patients respondents—78%–note they are comfortable with their physician’s office keeping a credit card on file to be charged up to $200 after a claim has been paid by the health insurer and the consumer informed of his outstanding balance. But only 20% of physicians offer patients that payment option.

Other survey results show:

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  • 75% of doctor offices can provide patients with a cost estimate for treatment upon request but only 25% of patients requested one before scheduling their last appointment.
  • 86% of patients did not comparison shop for doctors before making their last appointment.
  • For patients that did comparison shop for doctors and prices before an appointment, 47% used the provider’s website, 38% called the doctor and 23% contacted their health insurer.
  • 59% of patients are comfortable giving their e-mail address to their doctor.
  • 51% of doctors say it takes patients on average 90 days or more to pay an outstanding bill in full compared with 19% who say they typically get paid in between 30 days and 60 days and 23% who say payment generally takes one month or less.

“The organizations that can fully embrace digital payment options, such as credit card on file, automated payment plans and patient cost estimation, stand to benefit the most as healthcare consumerism continues to impact the industry,” Dolan says.

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