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Hospital Billing: Out of the Middle Ages

No one who reads this blog needs to be reminded that the healthcare business cries out for innovation.  Hopefully the chaotic and strident forces pulling at the industry now will — in the magic Adam Smithian manner — somehow produce net positive forward change.  But not all the change is technological.

I recently went through elective surgery and was blown away by the — I can’t think of any other word for it — Medieval-ness — of the billing process.  I got one bill from the hospital for essentially my stay, one bill for each department in the hospital that had done a procedure, one bill from each of the professionals (above a certain level) who had done the procedures.  Each bill came with no indication that it was a part of the one procedure, the one hospitalization.  They came at different times.  And they dribbled in over the course of maybe 12 weeks (unless there are some I haven’t seen yet; of course there’s no “summary” or notion of an overall master account).

What other industry on Earth works this way?  Try to imagine buying a car like this: you get an invoice from the assembly plant, but a different one from the paint department.  The shift supervisor sends you a bill for his or her services.  And, just when you think you understand what the car cost, you get a bill from the battery and tire suppliers.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone.

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About the author

an Gordon is Research Director for Valhalla Partners, a Northern Virginia venture capital firm. Dan has twenty-eight years experience working with technology, as a computer scientist, software developer, manager, analyst, and entrepreneur. Prior to joining Valhalla Partners, Dan was a Director and senior staff member at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Technology Centre, analyzing technology trends and consulting on technology-oriented strategies in the software, e-business, wireless, optical, networking, semiconductor IP, and life sciences arenas. He worked with clients from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Dan was a Contributing Writer and Contributing Editor to the Technology Centre’s annual Technology Forecast, and a frequent speaker at industry and general business meetings. Before joining PwC, Dan spent 20 years in Silicon Valley as a software technologist, manager, director, and entrepreneur, including senior technical roles at well-known Silicon Valley firms like Symantec, Intuit, and Oracle. Dan has also been involved in startup companies in the applied Artificial Intelligence and Web applications fields. Dan has a B.A. (cum laude) from Harvard University and an M.S. from New York University in Computer Science. He is a Professional Member of the IEEE and ACM. Dan lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children.