Highmark taps Cedar for its patient billing platform

Cedar is rolling out its integrated payer-provider billing platform with Highmark and its health system, Allegheny Health Network, the first to sign on.

The tool, called the Payer Intelligence Layer, integrates data from both payers and providers to create a unified place for patients to manage their medical bills. The goal is to make navigating healthcare costs easier while arming patients with the data they need to manage their own expenses.

The Payer Intelligence Layer, which is initially available with Cedar Pay, integrates an explanation of benefits from insurers, real-time deductible information and health benefits accounts status in the same platform patients use to resolve and pay medical bills.

"Let’s merge a lot of the information that is coming separate today," said Seth Cohen, president of Cedar, told Fierce Healthcare.

Cohen said patients typically perceive medical bills as a provider-centric problem, but, in conversations with Highmark, they discussed ways for "the payer to get involved" in a greater way.

"The patient gets stuck between these very uncoordinated stress points," Cohen said. "There was a really unique opportunity to bring these sides together on behalf of the patient rather than putting the patient in the middle of all of these folks."

Cedar's platform integrates both with payers, to gather benefits information, but also with banks that administer health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement accounts to ensure members have access to all of the information in one place.

While Highmark and AHN are part of the same company, Highmark Health, each will work with Cedar in unique ways, the companies said. Patients who are treated at AHN facilities will be able to access the billing and payment options through Cedar Pay, which offers a simplified experience.

For Highmark members treated at AHN facilities, their benefits will also be incorporated into the platform.

"A lot of our strategy is around making the patient’s experience better and making the clincian’s experience better and these types of technology tools and partnerships are what allow us to do that," James Rohrbaugh, chief financial officer and treasurer at AHN, told Fierce Healthcare.

While the initial partnership focuses on AHN's patients, Highmark sees potential for Cedar's platform in its relationship with other providers.

Neil Kulkarni, vice president of customer and clinician experience solutions at Highmark Health, told Fierce that tech tools like Cedar's are key to bringing its "Living Health experience to life."

"We're just scratching the surface of the opportunity to take advantage of this Payer Intelligence Layer," Kulkarni said.