On Monday at the annual Health Datapalooza conference, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced the launch of the “A Bill You Can Understand” challenge. Sponsored by AARP and administered by the design agency Mad*Pow, the challenge is intended to solicit new approaches and draw national attention to a common complaint with the health care system: that medical billing is a source of confusion for patients and families.
Lack of Standardization for Consumer Medical Billing Documents
More often than not, medical bills are a source of confusion for patients and families. There is currently no standard for consumer medical billing documents: bills vary in content, presentation, and use of health industry jargon. Consumers also receive bills and explanations of benefits from multiple sources for the same episode of care long after the encounter. It can be difficult to understand what expenses the insurance plan covers and what amounts consumers are responsible for paying, and it can be difficult to verify whether the bills are correct or complete. This can result in anxiety or frustration, and can lead to problematic outcomes, such as hesitancy to seek care, non-payment, under-payment, or over-payment of medical expenses.
The dual purpose of this challenge is to redesign the medical bill itself so that it is easier for patients to understand, as well as to innovate the experience of medical billing to make the financial aspect of health easier to manage.
“This challenge is part of HHS’ larger effort to put patients at the center of their own health care,” said Secretary Burwell. “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, hospitals, insurance companies and innovators.”
Winning designs will be featured at the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference this September and on the challenge website. In addition, the following organizations have committed to test or implement winning solutions for the patients they serve –
– Cambia Health Solutions (Portland, OR)
– Geisinger Health System (Danville, PA)
– INTEGRIS Health (Oklahoma City, OK)
– The MetroHealth System (Cleveland, OH)
– Providence Health & Services (Seattle, WA)
– University of Utah Health Care (Salt Lake City, UT)
Between them, these organizations have over 10 million patient visits each year to their hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities and, among those with health plans, cover nearly 3.5 million people. They represent a diverse set of health care organizations, ranging from academic medical centers, integrated delivery systems and safety net providers. Experts from these organizations will also serve alongside patients and other stakeholders on an advisory panel to the challenge’s federal judges.
The submission criteria for the challenge include:
– A written design brief (not to exceed 2,250 words) describing the concept, the design principles it follows, and how it meets the evaluation criteria
– A brief video (less than 3 minutes) describing the concept, the design principles it follows, and how it meets the evaluation criteria
– Visual compositions (including information, layout, and aesthetic) of the tools and materials the patient may see and interact with, including the medical bill itself
– A journey map that illustrates changes to the medical billing process from the patient’s perspective in terms of his/her specific experience and what solutions are provided by the health care organizations involved
Recognition & Prizes
Winners will receive up to $10,000 in cash prizes:
– $5,000 – Prize 1: Easiest Bill to Understand
– $5,000 – Prize 2: Transformational Approach
– Honorable Mentions: Entries that do not win but demonstrate a compelling concept or solution may receive an honorable mention.
Winners will be announced at the 10th Annual Health 2.0 Fall Conference on September 25-28 in Santa Clara, CA. Winners may also have the opportunity to work with health care organizations engaged with the challenge to implement their concepts (in whole or in part) in the real world.