Cedar: Delivering a Seamless Healthcare Financial Engagement Experience '

Cedar: Delivering a Seamless Healthcare Financial Engagement Experience

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Florian Otto, Co-Founder and CEO, CedarFlorian Otto, Co-Founder and CEO, Cedar
Consider the last time you received a bill from your healthcare provider. Chances are that you forgot all about it and accidentally threw out the statement, spending hours on the phone trying to find out the bill’s incomprehensible and opaque contents.

Few things today conjure a more immediate negative reaction from Americans than the topic of medical bills. Once we finish lamenting on the meteoric growth of healthcare costs and the patient’s responsibility for those costs, we can all share personal anecdotes about the frustration of the medical bill itself. The traditional practice of healthcare billing involves the use of confusing paper statements, aggressive collections agencies, wage garnishment and lawsuits—none of which serve the patient. Not surprisingly, one in three Americans don’t think that their providers have done enough to improve their billing and financial practices.

Difficult circumstances like these have become even more common in light of the current pandemic. This further highlights the inefficiencies of mainstream US healthcare models, as investment dollars double down on virtual-first, digitally-enabled solutions.

Enter Cedar, a healthcare innovator in the patient engagement space, providing patients the modern, convenient and transparent financial experience that they deserve. Cedar's financial engagement platform brings together cutting edge expertise from the worlds of healthcare, technology and design. The company leverages the latest data science and user experience trends to provide patients with a medical billing and administrative experience that reflects the ease we have come to expect from consumer-centric industries, to keep patients happy and businesses healthy. “At Cedar, our objective is to improve the patient experience—eliminating the unnecessary pain that patients and their families endure from confusing, difficult billing and administrative processes,” says Florian Otto, the co-founder of Cedar.

Cedar’s flagship product, Cedar Pay, delivers medical bills in an intuitive and navigable format, with payment options that help patients understand and resolve balances. Additionally, the company also provides omni-channel outreach, in paper, text, email or call form, alongside the bill to make things even more transparent for the patient. The outreach translates CPT codes into plain-english descriptions so that patients can see exactly what they are being billed for.

At Cedar, our objective is to improve the patient experience—eliminating the unnecessary pain that patients and their families endure from confusing, difficult billing and administrative processes

The product improves the patient financial experience using technology through flexible payment plans, personalization, and resolution options. Cedar facilitates this by using dynamic data-science experimentation to determine the right billing approach for individual patients. “Our models proactively identify and execute the optimal payment approach for different patients, offering the right options to each,” mentions Otto. Cedar Pay is now also available in the Epic App Orchard, which will help providers deliver a frictionless, personalized billing experience embedded in Epic’s MyChart that complements existing staff workflows.

Cedar has 30+ signed healthcare provider clients on the platform including ChristianaCare, Maimonides Medical Center, Novant Health, Florida Cancer Specialists, Optum-owned Westmed Medical group, US Dermatology Partners and Crystal Run Healthcare. When Crystal Run Healthcare partnered with Cedar to modernize their paper-based approach to patient billing and financial engagement, they wanted to give patients a transparent, convenient experience while also easing manual burden for their revenue cycle and front-desk staff. With Cedar, Crystal Run Healthcare doubled their collections and achieved 50 percent digital self-service payments, reducing call center volume.

The competitive pressures that Cedar faces in the marketplace are largely a result of the incumbency effect; many of the company’s competitors are legacy players, but despite that advantage, the competitors have significant product deficiencies that have allowed Cedar to set themselves apart in the market. Many of the other players in this space are not equipped to handle complex, consumer-centric financial scenarios while Cedar’s product is also built from the best of consumer-facing technology.

Otto mentions that Cedar has recently raised more than $100 million in Series C funding so that they could invest heavily in building out a full product roadmap, beyond the core financial engagement product. “We are working closely with development partners this year to expand to our end-to-end touchpoints with patients in order to be the seamless thread that connects their administrative and financial experience before, during and after care. For example, we recently announced a partnership with Waystar to implement eligibility verification and price estimates directly into our pre-visit offering,” concludes Otto. “As patients, and organizations like CMS, continue to demand price transparency and shoppable services, health systems will want to partner with platforms like Cedar’s to innovate in this space quickly.” Additionally, Cedar’s recently announced innovation partnership with Novant Health will allow the company to advance and accelerate key innovation initiatives that extend further into pre-visit patient digital engagement.

Cedar News

Study Finds 40% Uptick in Consumers Who Have Switched or Stopped Going to a Healthcare Provider Because of a Poor Digital Experience

Annual survey from Cedar finds that while COVID-19 has accelerated adoption of digital health, consumer expectations are still not being met

Cedar, an innovative patient engagement and financial technology platform, today announced the results of its annual Healthcare Consumer Experience Study, finding that against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital impressions matter more than ever before—28% of consumers have switched or stopped going to a healthcare provider because of a poor digital experience, a 40% increase from 2019. The latest results, conducted by Forrester Consulting from over 1,500 responses, identify trends in the patient financial experience, including the impact of COVID-19.

Conducted during the pandemic, the study demonstrates the acceleration of necessary changes in digital health. When it comes to billing, even more patients are using digital tools: text message use alone has grown by over 200% in the past year, while email and patient portal use have grown by 82% and 34%, respectively.

Yet, more than half of consumers (57%) have delayed care due to the pandemic, highlighting the need for improved digital health measures. While 44% of consumers would like a vaccine before engaging with care, they also generally want telemedicine options (44%), digital forms and communication (41%), and touchless check-in (37%) in light of the pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has not only accelerated the adoption of digital health but has also done us the favor of identifying flaws and areas for improvement with these tools," said Florian Otto, CEO and co-founder of Cedar. "One in 10 consumers simply won't pay their bill if they can't understand it. It's clear that the financial experience is a critical component of the broader patient journey, and as a result, providers can't afford to disregard patient financial engagement now that exceptional, end-to-end digital experiences are the norm."

Despite digital health tools becoming more ubiquitous with care, providers still have a long way to go in meeting consumer expectations and preferences:

• 31% of consumers don't think their healthcare providers have done enough to improve their patient billing and payment processes

• 49% wish their digital healthcare experience was smoother and more intuitive, similar to experiences with Amazon, Netflix or Uber

• 68% say it is important to be able to customize their experience with a healthcare provider

The patient experience has become a critical function of providers' bottom line, and the social network effect in healthcare is pervasive:

• 54% of respondents note that they consult online reviews to choose a healthcare provider, with 98% of them saying that those reviews are influential in some way

• 65% say that they would be very likely to recommend a healthcare provider or write them a good review if they offer a great digital experience

• 53% of consumers would consider switching doctors to get touchless paperwork and virtual care, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

Although expectations around digital tools are becoming more prevalent, subtle differences between age groups highlight the need for personalized experiences:

• Consumers between ages 23-54 are more than twice as likely to prefer interactions through a patient portal, compared to those 74 and older

• Almost one-quarter (23%) of consumers between ages 18-54 wish they were able to use more consumer-friendly payment solutions, like Apple Pay or Venmo, when paying medical bills, compared to only 6% of those 55 and older

• Consumers between the ages of 18-54 are at least 4x as likely to consider switching doctors if they didn't provide more digital experiences than those over age 55, such as touchless check-in and virtual care

In addition to highlighting patient preferences for digital health experiences, survey results also suggest mounting concerns over rising healthcare costs and paying medical bills. Ninety percent of respondents express worry about rising healthcare costs over the next five years, and 84% are worried about paying their healthcare costs in the next year. Additionally, 54% have had a medical bill go to collections, with reasons including being unable to pay (24%), poor or outdated billing and notification processes (22%), believing they were billed incorrectly (17%) and finding the bill too confusing (11%).

"Exceptional end-to-end patient experiences are now the norm, and that's no exception for the financial journey," said ArelLidow, President and co-founder of Cedar. "The future is touchless and contactless, and by investing in the right patient engagement technology, providers can deliver on the financial experience patients crave, meet rising expectations around digital health tools and address concerns around healthcare costs with more transparency."