What’s the heart of a community? Well, that depends where you are. For some, it’s a local barbershop or school. For others, it’s a church, library or town hall. Of course, those are just places. The real heart of a community lies anywhere people who share common interests, values and goals gather for the betterment of each other.
This is why I am excited that INTEGRIS Health has joined the VisitPay family. Based in Oklahoma City, with 13 hospitals, with three more set to open soon, and 150 physician clinics spread across the state, INTEGRIS is intimately woven into the fabric of the communities it serves.
“Central to our mission at INTEGRIS is the idea of ‘returnship,’ which means giving back part of ourselves to the communities we serve,” said Mike Weed, the health system’s Senior Vice President of Financial Operations. “The first impression I had of Oklahoma City and Oklahomans is just how welcoming the city is and how welcoming the people are here. It’s a community of wonderful people. They clearly show that they care about each other and take care of each other.”
Hospitals have a reputation for being cold and clinical, a place where patients feel like an anonymous medical chart or one electronic file among thousands. But INTEGRIS shatters that stereotype, with involvement in local rescue missions, schools and outreach to seniors.
“Healthcare organizations today need to consider all aspects of the patient’s wellbeing—clinical, financial and spiritual. They’re all important to the wellbeing of a patient,” said Susan Garcia, Assistant Vice President for Revenue Cycle at INTEGRIS.
The challenge for state-wide health systems like INTEGRIS, with incredibly large and diverse patient populations, is that pinpointing the needs and preferences of individuals is technically difficult, costly and resource-intensive.
“Every patient has a unique challenge, a unique situation. Some are recently divorced, some are recently out of a job, some have job increases. Every situation is different,” said Carlos Vaquarse, Administrative Director for Revenue Cycle Analytics. “We believe that every patient is unique—and we want them to have a personal relationship with INTEGRIS.”
To make that possible, a health system the size of INTEGRIS needs tools to better understand where patients are in their lives and empower them to make the right financial decisions for themselves and loved one.
“VisitPay was our solution because the technology helps us understand a patient’s situation to better meet their needs, and provides patients with autonomy,” said Garcia. “I think VisitPay is helping us to be more consumer-oriented by engaging the patient and addressing their financial needs. This empowers INTEGRIS to treat all patients as individuals, consider their situation and meet them where they are.”
INTEGRIS is in the business of holistic wellness, which goes well beyond clinical interactions. As a community-centric non-profit, it’s vitally important for INTEGRIS to maintain healthy margins in order to give back to the people they serve through investments in community programs or wellness initiatives, such as their mobile wellness clinic.
“What we’re seeing here is a shift toward more uninsured or underinsured individuals,” said Weed. “Oftentimes, these very costly and expensive healthcare challenges can hit when you’re not expecting them. That puts a huge burden and additional stress on our patients and their overall health. It’s important that we help them recover from these challenges.”
VisitPay was able to meet a specific technological need for INTEGRIS. More than that, this partnership shares mission-driven goals. For INTEGRIS, it’s returnship. For VisitPay, it’s helping people manage patient bills for good.
“It’s important to us at INTEGRIS to focus on that financial aspect and ensure that we are able to maintain enough of a margin to continue to give back to Oklahoma communities and invest,” said Weed. “We need to make sure that we can give back to them, as INTEGRIS has for so many years. We have blessed so many lives and we need to continue that.”
We embraced our mission to solve one of healthcare’s most significant challenges: a needlessly convoluted and inefficient billing system that buried health systems under a mountain of bad debt and left both providers and patients deeply unsatisfied. At a deeper level, our mission is about empowering communities.
A few months ago, I attended my first VisitPay Summit, an annual fall gathering we host for our health system clients and those with a passion for bringing an empathetic, personalized experience to the financial side of healthcare.
What immediately struck me was the sense of community this event fostered among its participants. Leaders from health systems across the country came together to exchange ideas and tackle hard problems. As an industry, healthcare is unique in the level of fellowship and collaboration it inspires.
This is why I believe INTEGRIS and VisitPay are an ideal match. I cannot wait to experience the next chapter in the INTEGRIS story.