El Camino Hospital outside of San Francisco has seen an increase from 2% to 33% of patients using online self-service bill pay since it began offering the Simplee Pay platform in January.

Simplee processes payments for the health care provider and offers an online wallet for aggregating, reviewing and paying bills.

"A patient can have a very good outcome clinically…and be really happy with the visit and then they get the bill and it's cumbersome and hard to understand," says Judi Ashline, director of patient financial services at El Camino Hospital. "No one likes getting [health care] bills but if they're clear and concise the first time it makes it a lot easier."

Simplee's wallet aggregates all of a patient's bills, which are usually provided separately by different facilities.

The hospital doesn't market the service until people come in for an appointment, Ashline says. In the first six months, about 75% of people told about the service opted in and the hospital has seen users of the service double every month, she says.

"What we've seen with Simplee is the 80% of patients that are going to pay their medical bills, they all pay the minute they open the email," Ashline says. This saves the hospital time and money by eliminating the need to send multiple statements or devoting staff time to guiding customers through billing, she says.

"We take self-service payments for patients and make it so amazing that it becomes the preferred method…as in so many others areas, for example in banking, ATMs have become totally the norm," says John Adractas, chief marketing officer at Simplee.

About 50% of hospitals have an online bill pay mechanism, but it's normally used by only 1% to 2% of patients, Adractas says. "Online bill pay, we didn't create it…we're just removing the barriers," he says.

Simplee looks to make medical bills simple, using common language instead of technical jargon, plus offering them together on one platform. Of El Camino's 60,000 patients, one in three uses the online payments feature with about 5,000 people processing payments online every month, Adractas says.

"Patients prefer it, both anecdotally we hear very positive things and we did a survey of billing…and 45% of people surveyed recommended the hospital due to its billing processes," Adractas says.  

El Camino started using Simplee in October 2012. Simplee charges a combination of a licensing fee and a transaction fee, and the amount is based on the level service a client purchases.

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