Patients at El Camino Hospital, a two-campus health system serving Silicon Valley, used to struggle to understand what is expected of them in regards to their hospital bills. And, as patients’ out-of-pocket responsibilities have increased in recent years, El Camino’s interim CFO, Ned Borgstrom, was willing to try a patient-payment technology, suggested by the health system’s CIO, which offered a new way of communicating patients’ financial responsibilities. “I was intrigued with the fact that maybe we could improve patient satisfaction by giving patients bills that they could understand,” he says.
In early 2013, El Camino began providing patients with online statements with an explanation of every line, including why coinsurance applies to certain bills, why a copayment is required for others, and why some expenses listed on the bills do not have to be paid.
The result: Patients pay their bills more quickly.
In addition, El Camino experienced the following improvements within the first six months of launching the billing system:
- Number of patient accounts outsourced for collection fell by half.
- Percentage of El Camino patients paying their bills online jumped from 2 percent to 33 percent.
- Patient financial services staff reduced the time spent on the telephone answering patient questions by 20 percent.
- Overall time staff spent managing payments and collections was cut by 20 percent.
“Even though I am a healthcare professional, sometimes I even get a little confused about my own bills,” says Judi Ashline, El Camino’s director of patient financial services when the new billing system launched. “This really brings clarity around a process that is very confusing.”