Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management, ICD-10, Claims Reimbursement, Medicare, Medicaid

Practice Management News

77% of Leaders Say Their Provider Orgs Use Paper Patient Billing

Electronic patient billing adoption remains low, with few provider organizations offering online bill payments, credit card on file programs, and automated payment plans.

Patient billing and patient financial responsibility

Source: Thinkstock

By Jacqueline LaPointe

- While over one-half (52 percent) of patients prefer to receive medical bills electronically, approximately 77 percent of providers still use paper-based patient billing methods, a recent MGMA and Navicure survey revealed.

The survey of 761 executives and practice leaders from medical groups, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and integrated delivery networks also uncovered that 28 percent of providers prefer that consumers pay their patient financial responsibility by check.

Just 15 percent prefer patient billing to occur via the patient portal and another 9 percent want their patients to provide credit cards and authorize the organization to charge up to $200.

Only 4 percent of healthcare executives and leaders stated they prefer automated payment plans.

While electronic patient billing acceptance is low, digitizing patient collections and medical billing may be the key to facilitating complete and faster payments. Roughly 52 percent of respondents reported that their patients take over three months to fully pay their patient financial responsibility.

Hospital revenue cycles are especially troubled by slow patient payments. About one-quarter of hospital leaders said that their patients take longer than six months to pay their balance versus just 13 percent of practice respondents.

But with providers mostly managing patient billing manually, the survey found that providers across organizations are not fully leveraging digital medical billing options despite patients demands. The survey showed the following electronic patient billing adoption rates:

• 27 percent of healthcare leaders said their organization has an online medical bill payment tool via their patient portal or website

• 22 percent stated that they offer payment plans or can automatically charge a patient’s account each month using a credit card of file

• 11 percent have consumer healthcare credit lines through a third-party vendor

Researchers also reported that 28 percent of healthcare leaders keep a credit card on file to collect patient financial responsibility.

However, patient willingness to keep a card on file is much higher. About 78 percent of consumers in a recent Navicure and HIMSS Analytics survey stated that they would provide a credit card on file to be charged one time up to $200.

While few provider organizations offer a credit card on file option, healthcare executives and leaders agreed that the electronic patient collection method would improve their organization’s revenue cycle.

About 35 percent of respondents stated that keeping a credit card on file to pay small balances under $200 would decrease the cost of collections, days in patient accounts receivable (A/R), and patient bad debt and write-offs.

Participants also agreed that automated payment plans would reduce the cost of collections with 30 percent of healthcare leaders, followed by days in patient A/R with 34 percent and patient bad debt and write-offs with 37 percent.

Healthcare executives and leaders were less confident that an online medical bill payment option would improve revenue cycle. Just 8 percent said it would reduce patient bad debt and write-offs and another 14 percent stated that an online bill payment solution would drop patient collection costs.

Additionally, consumer demand for patient financial responsibility estimates are high, but many provider organizations are not responding.

Approximately 56 percent of individuals planned to ask for a cost estimate in the future, the Navicure and HIMSS Analytics survey showed.

However, only 69 percent of hospital respondents said their organization is equipped to generate patient financial responsibility estimates upon request.

Ambulatory organizations have a competitive edge compared to hospitals, with 79 percent of these type of facilities providing cost estimates on request.

Of the ambulatory organizations with the ability to estimate patient financial responsibility, about 77 percent can do it at the time of service, 19 percent can do it while patients are still in the office, and 5 percent can provide the estimate after the patient leaves, but before the bill is sent.

While healthcare organizations are still working on generating cost estimates, providers are interested in offering this service. Among those who do not currently have patient financial responsibility estimates, 36 percent anticipate offering the service within the next year.

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