How Intermountain Healthcare Transformed the Financial Experience with More Meaningful Ways to Pay

Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah
Hospitals: 24
Beds: 2,745
Net Patient Revenue: $7.7 Billion
Employees (non-RN or MD): 41,700
EMR: Cerner

At a Glance

  • Business Challenge

    At Intermountain Healthcare, patients were struggling to pay their medical bills. With rising deductibles, patients needed more meaningful ways to manage financial obligations. The health system also needed guidance on how to successfully manage consumer debt, now that patients collectively comprised the largest non-government payer in healthcare.

  • Transformation

    Intermountain Healthcare selected VisitPay to help transform the patient financial experience, offering one that was more convenient, clear and flexible. The partnership began in 2014 and the patient-facing payment portal went live in 2017.

  • Results

    Intermountain now has over 200,000 patients registered to use the VisitPay platform. High adoption rates and increased patient satisfaction have driven a yield lift of 29%.

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Business Challenge

There has been a seismic shift in who pays for medical expenses, and Intermountain Healthcare took notice early on. The historically modest and manageable self-pay population was exploding.

According to Jeff Howes, Assistant Vice President of Revenue Cycle, “Even if patients were insured, they might have been underinsured. With deductibles increasing, more and more patients were struggling to manage their medical obligations.”

Along with increased financial responsibility came rising confusion. Often referred to Intermountain from other providers, many patients were new to the health system. They weren’t sure if their health insurance policy would cover the services they needed. Deductibles determined out-of-pocket balances, and patients didn’t know how much they would owe post-service.

“We needed consumer-friendly tools to help patients navigate complex financial transactions,” explains Todd Craghead, Vice President of Revenue Cycle. “Case in point: there are generational differences among our patient-base. Some want personal conversations; others prefer digital transactions. We wanted all our patients to have a more consistent, cohesive billing experience, regardless of clinical journey or life stage.”

On top of consumer confusion, Intermountain Healthcare was carrying significantly more bad debt on its books. Collecting from these self-pay patients was a monumental task that required manpower and consumer finance know-how.

As Craghead summarizes, “We needed a robust, digital solution that would drive more favorable financial outcomes for our health system. But most of all, we wanted to give patients more meaningful ways to satisfy their obligations. This would in turn allow our revenue cycle staff to identify those who needed financial assistance – and genuinely help them.”

 

VIDEO:
Intermountain shares how they’ve seen patient satisfaction and yield climb, while providing a financial care experience that matches their clinical care experience.

Transformation

Intermountain Healthcare set out to transform the patient financial experience, providing one akin to other consumer-centric industries. The initiative has been integral to the health system’s Digital Front Door, an integrated digital experience that empowers people to take an active role in managing their health. The online experience is meant to complement in-person interactions patients have with caregivers.

Critical to the success of a new financial technology, patients needed to be able to self-manage their bills. Leadership established parameters for a proposed solution:

  • Offer a convenient digital environment
  • Remove confusion
  • Consolidate bills for all family members
  • Provide flexible payment terms

Another important requirement was better metrics to continuously monitor and improve the financial experience moving forward.

Intermountain partnered with VisitPay to create patient-friendly tools and achieve these transformative goals.

Convenient digital environment

The first requirement of a financial solution was to offer a bill-paying experience in a digital environment, allowing patients to use devices they were already using at work and at home.

With VisitPay as a complementary technology to Cerner, Intermountain was able to offer a far more powerful solution than digitized paper statements. The new self-service experience matched what patients had come to expect from other consumer-based industries.

Craghead describes, “The platform allows patients to view and pay all of their bills from a single digital access point – any time, any place, from any device. Convenience is non-negotiable in this day and age, and VisitPay helped bridge this gap at Intermountain.”

Easy-to-understand

The second requirement was to take complex medical information and distill it to simple, easy-to-understand steps for consumers. With a user-friendly interface, VisitPay’s solution removed the complexity of healthcare billing, dramatically improving adoption and ease-of-use.

Howes explains, “VisitPay’s platform doesn’t require a steep learning curve. Since implementation, we have not only eliminated confusion, we’re watching patient satisfaction and payments grow.”

Bill consolidation for family

Intermountain often treats multiple family members simultaneously. A third requirement was to consolidate bills so that a guarantor could manage obligations for everyone – at the same time.

The VisitPay platform allows patients to consolidate and view charges from physicians, the hospital and HSA providers alongside the explanation of benefits (EOB) from health insurance providers. With a complete and updated view for the entire family, patients can clearly see what they owe, make a single convenient monthly payment and track payments and balances over time.

Flexible payment terms

A fourth requirement critical to a best-in-class financial experience was flexibility. According to Craghead, “We have found that most patients truly want to resolve their healthcare bills. Offering flexible, interest-friendly payment plans allows them to do so, even for patients with high deductibles.”

VisitPay accomplishes this by determining payment criteria for different segments of Intermountain’s patient population. Payment terms are then recommended to patients based on a variety of factors that include financial scoring, payment balances and other financial patterns.

This gives patients the option to set up payment plans within the platform that are flexible and tailored to their individual needs. If they qualify for assistance, Intermountain can make this determination earlier in the clinical journey rather than after debt goes to collections.

Craghead emphasizes the importance of VisitPay’s finance know-how in personalizing the payment approach for patients. “Though scoring and segmentation are part of VisitPay’s arsenal, they provide advanced analytics that go far beyond propensity-to-pay scores.”

Metrics to Serve Patients

Intermountain Healthcare is constantly sharing metrics with leadership so they understand the impact VisitPay’s platform is having on staff, patients and the system as a whole. By tracking adoption rates, duration to satisfy obligations, patient satisfaction and other important measures, the health system can identify trends to guide future decisions.

“This creates workflows that align with and optimize Intermountain’s EHR investment. With better information, we are able to have more active interactions with patients. Rather than taking calls to help patients understand what their bills mean, we can focus on those who are truly in need,” Craghead proudly reports.

“Our goal all along was to ensure our patients have a best-in-class financial experience consistent with their clinical experience.”

With VisitPay’s help, the two are now closely aligned to make a real difference for patients.

“Most patients truly want to resolve their healthcare bills. Offering flexible, interest-friendly payment plans allows them to do so.”
-Todd Craghead, Vice President of Revenue Cycle, Intermountain

Results

By the Numbers

  • 200K

    Users registered

  • 90%

    Patient satisfaction rates

  • NPS 40+

    Net Promoter Score

  • 29%

    Increase in yield rates

With VisitPay as a strategic partner, Intermountain Healthcare has posted impressive results for patients.

Over 200,000 users have registered to use the VisitPay platform. These high adoption rates demonstrate patients’ desire for a better financial experience, and specifically a digital solution that offers flexibility, convenience, and clarity.

The health system has watched patient satisfaction grow to almost 90%. Patients want and need to manage their own accounts. Craghead emphasizes, “Numbers like these truly validate that VisitPay’s technology is helping patients manage their obligations in meaningful ways.”

Net Promoter Scores reached 40+ points. Patients have many choices for clinical care; as such, retention has become a critical measure of success. Increased satisfaction leads to loyal patients who Intermountain can serve in the future.

Intermountain Healthcare has enjoyed a 29% yield lift. Since implementing VisitPay, Intermountain has driven real dollars to the bottom line, ones they can invest in the health system, its staff, patients and the community.