Two years ago, Change Healthcare struck a partnership with Adobe and Microsoft to build a system that they said would make healthcare more consumer-friendly. Now, they’re sharing the results: a suite of software tools that make booking and paying for healthcare procedures look more like shopping online.

The companies rolled out their Connected Consumer Health platform on Tuesday, which would allow users to search their area for a procedure, such as an MRI. They can compare the cost of an MRI across multiple facilities and with the regional average. Patients are given the option to “checkout” to pay upfront for their appointment upfront.

The system also includes tools to help patients schedule appointments, receive  reminders and check-in online.

“We know healthcare is behind. Compare your experience booking a flight on one of the major U.S. airlines. You compare that to the last time you got an X-ray and they are worlds apart,” Change Healthcare Director of Product Spencer Cross said in a phone interview. “We really think the industry is in a dire need of these ecommerce capabilities. We’re really excited to bring these together in a digital journey for the first time.”

Change Healthcare developed the system using Microsoft Azure and Adobe’s customer experience management suite.

The system, as it works now, is  focused on patients who pay in cash or have high-deductible insurance plans. It does not currently show patients how much their out-of-pocket costs would be with insurance coverage.

“We’ve designed the solution for patients that are pure self-pay or high-deductible plans. We’ve tried to orient the plans around 300 most shoppable services as identified by CMS,” Cross said.

By allowing patients to pay upfront, Cross said providers could be paid in  days, instead of waiting a month or more for statements to be processed and sent to patients.

This cash pay structure also lets providers offer patients a discount if they prepay for their procedure, or book an appointment at a less crowded facility.

“When we are encouraging patients to prepay through cash, we are able to steer patients in that way through tools like price,” he said.

Patients would be able to pay in cash or from a health savings account. They can then work with their insurer to make sure the payment is applied to their deductible.

Change Healthcare already has a system in place to allow patients to pay ahead of their appointment. Cross said more that 300 health systems currently use that feature.

In future iterations of the system, Cross said Change Healthcare will add more features to allow patients to search for in-network providers and calculate out-of-pocket costs with insurance.

“I think there’s a wealth of possibilities with these capabilities,” Cross said. “We think of building on this ecommerce backbone as much as possible, and making this as personalized as we can.”

Photo credit: Petro Bevz, Getty Images



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