Healthcare comes one step closer to an easy-to-understand medical bill

Calculator on top of a piece of paper with match equations

Six health systems will test new federally-approved and winning designs for an easy-to-understand medical bill aimed to improve the patient billing experience.

Cambia Health Solutions in Oregon, Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania; Integris Health in Oklahoma, the MetroHealth System in Ohio,  Providence Health and Services in Washington, and University of Utah Health Care, will test and implement the winning designs of a contest sponsored by the federal government.

“One of our priorities is to put patients at the center of their own healthcare,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services, in the announcement. “Helping Americans understand their medical bills empowers them to take more control of their health, and that’s a step in the right direction for our entire healthcare system.”

Earlier this year the Department of Health and Human Services challenged the healthcare and tech sectors to develop a medical bill that’s easier for patients to understand. Complex medical bills are a major obstacle to both patient satisfaction and the collections process, as they tend to contain insider jargon that leaves patients confused as to the amount they owe and why.

But the winners of the new medical design bill may make the entire patient billing process a lot easier, according to HHS. 

Los Angeles-based diagnostic imaging firm RadNet won in the category for ease of understanding. The company's color-coded bill makes payment options, insurance information and due dates clearer, HHS said. In addition, plain language explanations put charges in context.

Sequence, a digital branding firm based in San Francisco, won for improvement to the overall billing process. The company's "Clarify" online system modernizes and personalizes the billing process. The system allows patients to search, browse, weigh their options, compare prices and decide how they will pay.