Consumer-Centric Tools Improve the Revenue Cycle

Rene Letourneau, June 15, 2015

Two health systems have improved payments by making healthcare payments mirror consumer experiences and by tapping the growing popularity of crowdfunding websites for healthcare bills.

Most hospitals and health systems claim to be patient-centered, but they don't all put their money where their mouth is when it comes to helping patients access and pay for care.

I've spoken recently with finance leaders at two health systems that are implementing tools that take the consumer perspective on bills, improve the patient experience, and in turn, boost the revenue cycle.

Patient-centric billing and payment



Laurie Hurwitz

When Laurie Hurwitz became the executive director for revenue cycle at La Crosse, WI-based Gundersen Health System about a year ago, she was determined to simplify the system's billing and collections processes.

At that time, Hurwitz says, patient statements were difficult to read because they were payer-centric, not patient-centric. She worked to remove the healthcare industry jargon and increase readability for the average person.

"I was interested in finding a better solution for the patient. I wanted it to be easy for them to immediately understand what they owe and what they need to do to pay," Hurwitz says.

"I care more about the patient experience than I do about collecting from the patient, which might sound strange coming from a finance person, but I believe one follows the other. If we don't do what is right for the patient, I believe it will impact us financially."

The next step in Hurwitz's plan to "delight the patient" was to implement a simple, technology-driven way for patients to pay their medical bills—an idea she says stemmed from her own desire for the easiest way to complete tasks.

"I'm lazy. I walk around with a five-inch computer with me, and I want to do everything with it. I don't want to write a check. I don't want to go anywhere. And I think a lot of people my age are that way, and certainly my kids and their friends are that way."

With that in mind, Hurwitz led Gundersen's transition to a new billing process that offers self-service payment options via email and the MyChart patient portal in its electronic health record. The new billing methods were rolled out across 36 locations in five months.

Rene Letourneau

Rene Letourneau is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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