HHS has issued a challenge to health care organizations, developers, digital technology companies and others to design a medical bill that is “simpler, cleaner and easier” to understand, with the aim of improving the billing process for patients.
According to officials, the contest, called A Bill You Can Understand, is intended to bring national attention to the common complaint that medical billing is confusing for patients and families. In addition, half a dozen healthcare organizations, covering nearly 3.5 million people, have committed to test or implement the winning entries.
“This challenge is part of HHS’ larger effort to put patients at the center of their own healthcare,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a press release. “With today’s announcement, we are creating progress toward a medical bill that people can actually understand and a billing process that makes sense — progress that includes creating a forum that brings everyone to the table: Patients, doctors, hospital, insurance companies and innovators.”
The status quo in medical billing, according to HHS, typically involves patients and their families receiving bills from multiple hospitals, doctors, laboratories or specialists for the same episode of care, each with its own content, layout and use of industry jargon. This can often lead to confusion regarding what the patient owes and what is covered by their insurance plan.
The contest is being sponsored by the AARP and administered by the design firm Mad*Pow. Winning designs will be featured at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference in September, and the designers will receive prizes of $5,000 each.
Organizations that have committed to testing or implementing the winning solutions include Cambia Health Solutions, in Portland, Oregon; Geisinger Health System, in Danville, Pennsylvania; INTEGRIS Health, in Oklahoma City; the MetroHealth System, in Cleveland; Providence Health and Services, in Seattle; and University of Utah Health Care, in Salt Lake City.
According to HHS, the six health care organizations represent more than 10 million patient visits each year to hospitals, clinics and other facilities. Officials from these organizations will also serve alongside patients and other stakeholders on an advisory panel to the contest judges.
HHS will give two awards, one to the entry that is judged easiest to understand, and the other for “the innovator that designs the best transformational approach to improve the medical billing system, focusing on what the patient sees and does throughout the process.”
The contest will accept submissions until Aug. 10. Winners will be announced in September.