Sutter Health’s cost estimator tool is accurate, user-friendly, study finds

An online tool that uses real-time data to give patients at Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health personalized cost estimates for common ambulatory services is accurate and easy to use, a recent study concluded.

Researchers from the Sutter Health Center for Health Systems Research and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, both in Palo Alto, Calif., led the study, which was published in JAMA Network Open. The 10-month study found that, of the more than 4,600 cost estimates examined, the tool displayed an accuracy rate of about 84 percent.

Additionally, a user survey found that the majority of users had a positive experience with the tool, reporting that it is intuitive and easy to use, and that they would recommend it to others.

Sutter introduced the cost estimator in August. Patients access the tool via the health system's online patient portal, My Health Online, where they can receive pricing estimates for more than 200 ambulatory services. The tool is integrated into Sutter's EHR, allowing it to derive accurate estimates based on each patient's insurance coverage.

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