Most practices still send patients paper bills

Going paperless may be a trend, but it isn’t reality in most medical practices.

In a new survey, 77% of physician practice leaders said their organizations are still sending patients paper bills. That’s the case, even though a slight majority of patients (52%) said they prefer electronic billing, according to the survey conducted jointly by the Medical Group Management Association and Navicure.

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The survey of 761 MGMA members in May found that adoption of electronic patient billing remains low and that few practices offer online bill payments, credit card on file programs and automated payment plans. Respondents included practice administrators/office managers (61%) and C-level executives (28%). 

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"Provider organizations in general still track far behind patient preferences," said Mariann Lowery, a qualitative analyst at MGMA, in the announcement. "Patients are used to allowing other service providers to use their email address and credit card number to receive and pay their bills. Just look at the explosion of e-commerce. Healthcare organizations of any size have the opportunity to be just as safe and convenient, and provide a better patient experience.”

The survey found only 13% of practices report that it takes longer than six months for patients to pay their balance in full. While physician practices must maximize patient collections to stay financially healthy, a previous MGMA survey found more than 75% wait more than 90 days to turn overdue bills over to a collection agency.