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Blue Shield of California Expands Collaboration with Dignity Health Hospitals to Make Billing and Payment Easier for Patients, Providers

Innovative program expands to 26 facilities throughout California to better support providers during COVID-19

OAKLAND, Calif. (January 11, 2021) – Blue Shield of California announced the expansion across California of its innovative program designed to transform the medical payment system into a simple, transparent, and more immediate, retail-like experience for patients and medical providers.

Blue Shield has teamed up with CommonSpirit Health (which operates Dignity Health hospitals) and software startup OODA Health to introduce the high-tech program. The group is buoyed by initial, positive results – the process makes cost share payments more streamlined, which resulted in a 92 percent satisfaction rate from patients who used it. 

“Our goal is to make the medical billing process better so providers can focus on delivering care to patients that will improve their health and wellbeing,” said Shayna Schulz, senior vice president of transformation and operations at Blue Shield of California. “We are using the latest technologies and innovations to create a healthcare system that puts the people at the center of it. That is our mission as a nonprofit health plan: creating a healthcare system that is worthy of our family and friends, and sustainably affordable.”

The three organizations launched the “Member Payments” pilot program in September 2019 at two Dignity Health hospitals in Sacramento. The program, initially slated to run for 12 months, grew to include six hospitals by the end of that year.

Now, the program has expanded to 20 additional Dignity Health hospitals throughout California. For Blue Shield of California members who receive care at those facilities, they will experience a faster, more concise, and transparent billing process, including additional options on how they pay for their portion of the bill.

“We want to support our patients through the entirety of their medical journey so they can focus on their healing. This collaboration with Blue Shield of California and OODA does just that by using technology to make patient medical bills easier to understand,” said Steve Scharmann, vice president of revenue cycle at CommonSpirit Health. “An important part of caring for our patients is to ensure they have a seamless financial experience that is equal to the high-quality care they receive at our hospitals.”

The Member Payments program works this way:

  • Blue Shield of California members receive a consolidated, easy-to-read monthly medical bill from Blue Shield. The patient can choose a payment method for the amount owed – in full or in interest-free installments through their Flexible Spending Account card, credit card, check, or ACH direct deposit connection.
  • Participating healthcare providers receive help managing the financial responsibility owed by Blue Shield members, improving their financial performance, and reducing time  spent on paperwork and tracking down unpaid bills.

As part of the collaboration, Blue Shield of California also has implemented new technologies to reduce manual processes and work more efficiently to help create a more consumer-friendly experience for members and providers.

Seth Cohen, co-CEO and co-founder of OODA Health, added, ”We are honored to grow this collaboration to help even more patients navigate their medical bills, especially during this turbulent time. And we’re proud to streamline administration and drive tangible results for our collaborators. This expansion further proves how innovative collaboration can catalyze transformation in healthcare.”

The Member Payment program is a first step toward real-time claims settlement that will make medical billing and payment more immediate and simpler. The effort is part of Blue Shield of California’s Health Reimagined initiative, a comprehensive effort to transform the healthcare system for all.

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.

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