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Patients want to go digital, yet nearly 100% of providers use paper billing — 6 study findings

More than 50 percent of patients prefer electronic bills and over 75 percent would give providers pre-authorization for credit card charges, according to Waystar's Patient Payment Check-Up Survey.

The survey was conducted by HIMSS Analytics in January. The organization polled 895 financial executives from hospitals, health systems and outpatient facilities, as well as 1,007 adult patients who visited an inpatient or outpatient provider within a year of completing the survey.

Here are six takeaways.

1. Eighty-five percent of patients said they feel just as responsible for paying for healthcare as they do other professional services. However, less than 20 percent of those respondents with commercial insurance said they find healthcare easy to pay for or understand.

2. Eighty-six percent of patients who were given cost estimates understood their payment responsibility. Greater transparency and understanding of charges promotes faster and easier payment, Waystar concluded.

3. Less than one-third of patients reported knowing they can ask for a cost estimate, but 87 percent of healthcare professionals said they can provide cost estimates upon request.

4. Almost 100 percent of healthcare executives still billed patients using paper statements, while more than half of patients preferred to receive and pay healthcare bills electronically.

"This presents an opportunity for providers to improve patient satisfaction while significantly reducing cost of monthly paper statements and time that it takes patients to pay," Waystar said in a press release. Waystar is the combination of revenue cycle technology providers Navicure and ZirMed.

5. Almost half of providers claimed it takes their patients over three months to pay the full balance of what they owe. However, only 24 percent of patients reported it took longer than three months to pay in full.

6. More than 75 percent of patients said they would be open to giving their provider pre-authorization to charge a credit card for payments up to $200.

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