Leaders at El Camino Hospital, located in California's Silicon Valley, wanted to make it easy for tech-savvy consumers to shop online for personalized, reliable price estimates for its medical services.
The independent not-for-profit hospital launched a consumer self-service tool in May 2017, after about a year of development work with Experian Health, which previously helped El Camino set up an internal price-estimator tool for its billing staff.
Since then, more than 3,000 people have visited the hospital's website, selected one or more of about 90 medical or surgical services they were interested in, entered their insurance information, and received an instant out-of-pocket cost estimate the hospital claims is 95% to 99% accurate.
Over the past two years, a growing number of hospitals have worked with vendors such as Experian and Recondo to offer online price estimates directly to consumers for common, less complex services. Previous tools allowed hospital staff to generate estimates for patients when they called or came in for a service.
Now, more providers want to offer self-service cost estimators on their websites. That's because they're experiencing strong demand from patients in high-deductible health plans who want to shop around and know their financial exposure in advance. When patients understand how much they'll owe, that can improve the collection process and reduce uncompensated care, hospital leaders say.