Healthcare billing; a key step to patient health

As caregivers, our mission is to improve the health of our communities. Part of that job is helping to reduce or eliminate reasons patients might not seek care. A big one, according to research by Mad*Pow, is having negative experiences with past healthcare bills.

The reality of today's healthcare means patients often deal with many doctors, nurses and other medical professionals for one visit or episode of care, so they see bills from several different sources. We have a responsibility as healthcare leaders to help patients move toward safer and healthier lives. If we confuse them with bills after their care, they might be more reluctant or skeptical to seek that care the next time. It's such a problem that the federal government issued a contest – "A Healthcare Bill You Can Understand" – to find a way to simplify healthcare billing.

We can do better.

At ThedaCare, we're testing a new billing approach with our employees—who are also patients—with the hopes of rolling it out to all patients down the road. We're working with Health Payment Systems (HPS) and integrating their billing technology to make the entire process easier and give our users a single bill with all the information they need in one place. Users can log into their MyThedaCare portals, just like they would for a lab result or to message a provider, and they can do the same thing for their bill. It makes it so they don't have to remember another website or how to use it, and they're not getting multiple bills and multiple Explanations of Benefits.

Our employees get a grand total and a clear statement of what they need to pay. And they can pay it all in one spot. Users tell us it's much less confusing, and easier to read and understand. We keep hearing, "Well, that's the way healthcare should work." Ultimately, we're driving our brand forward by providing a simple experience with more usefulness for the MyThedaCare functionality.

By creating a better billing experience, we can remove the hurdle facing the 56 percent of people who say they hesitate to get care because of billing confusion. It's using technology to deliver a better experience—a single bill that is easy to understand and shows you exactly what to pay and how to pay. For our organization, the efficiencies and benefits make a difference on our bottom line too. And, our accountants tell us it's a change worth making.

This new technology and new billing approach gives healthcare administrators a tool to improve patient satisfaction and retention, and more importantly, bring down a barrier between patients and the consistent care that helps them stay healthy.

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