Cedar: Personalized patient billing built to engage

Hassan Sultan, Chief Technology Officer, Cedar
Hassan Sultan, Chief Technology Officer, Cedar

Hassan Sultan, Chief Technology Officer, Cedar

The need for patient-centric billing has never been more important. 12.6 million Americans are still out of work due to COVID-19 and it’s estimated that more could lose their employer-based health insurance by the end of the year.

At Cedar, we’ve always theorized that patients want to pay their bills, and if we made it easier for them to interact and self-serve, they would. While understandably some people cannot afford healthcare expenses, we believe that enabling a more engaging, compassionate experience can help guide these patients toward alternative forms of resolution beyond payment in full – interest-free payment plans, discounts and denials messaging being just a few examples.

For tens of thousands of patients across the United States, Cedar Pay is where medical bills get resolved every week. Instead of having to wrestle with confusing paper statements, inflexible payment options and aggressive collection tactics, Cedar’s flagship product provides medical bills that are intuitive and navigable, offers payment options that make sense for the individual and engages patients to resolve balances in ways most convenient.

But, as our team and patient user base began to grow rapidly, it became clear that we needed to find ways of empowering our designers and developers to focus on solving problems more efficiently without worrying about UI details, preserving accessibility standards and mobile usage. That’s why we decided to develop a new design system for the Cedar Pay patient app.

Design system: What is it and why did we create one?

Design systems enable value for designers, engineers and end users. When done well, they can empower development teams to move faster and more efficiently while giving users a better experience that feels cohesive end-to-end.

There are many reasons for creating a design system; our main motivations were to increase velocity, create consistency and improve quality:

● Increase velocity: Design systems provide developers with a library of modular design components that have code counterparts. Having all UI elements organized in one place allows our engineers to work faster and spend more time thinking about solutions and less on what color to use for a button.

● Create consistency: As Cedar continues to grow, so does the amount of ways we solve problems for users; sometimes this results in competing visual styles. Design systems create a shared vocabulary for designers and developers, which helps make the UX feel connected and reinforces user familiarity over time.

● Improve quality: Cedar exists to improve the patient experience and the new Cedar Pay design system does exactly that. Specifically, we incorporated design-driven improvements that make the patient app more accessible and mobile-friendly.

Accessibility and mobile optimization are incredibly important to the patient experience, so let’s take a deeper dive into how we improved those features.

Accessibility: Make the billing experience open to all by improving access for patients with disabilities.

Patient populations are typically a good representation of the general population. Given that 1 in 4 American adults live with a disability and the fact that patients are more likely to engage with Cedar Pay when they are managing a health-related issue, ensuring products are accessible and usable becomes crucial to a positive user experience.

To raise the bar, we designed the patient UI to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.0, Level AA standards, which is a third-party set of guidance documentation referenced by product designers around the world. For example, to improve access we:

● Accounted for users with color blindness and vision impairment by selecting colors that are more distinguishable.

● Made text easier to read by exceeding minimum contrast ratio and size requirements as well as using sentence case throughout.

● Ensured content is legible and navigable by using hierarchical layout and spacing.

Mobile-first: Optimize the patient UI for high performance and ease of use on mobile devices.

Across our patient user base, we consistently see more payments attributed to text message notifications compared to other communication methods. Whether on the go or on the couch, we wanted to make it even simpler for patients to access and resolve bills from their phone.

We’ve introduced a number of improvements to address issues around usability on mobile, and optimized the experience for scrolling and the fold. We enhanced Cedar Pay on mobile by:

● Making it more finger-friendly with bigger touch targets around interactive elements like form fields and call to action buttons.

● Reducing the likelihood of eye fatigue by using typography that’s comfortable to read on smaller screens.

● Helping patients complete more tasks like setting up a payment plan by using simple, guided flows.

Looking ahead

Our work redesigning the patient experience isn’t over, but this release lays a solid foundation for improvements to come. At Cedar, we incorporate learnings from research, experimentation and user feedback into our product designs, and the design system enables us to do so quickly and efficiently.

But, as we continue to optimize our post-visit patient billing product, our focus has shifted toward solving meatier problems like price transparency and healthcare costs.

That’s why we’re rolling out a comprehensive patient engagement platform that not only streamlines the post-visit financial experience, but engages patients prior to receiving care. Our pre-service offering helps patients save time in the waiting room by enabling self-serve check-in and prepayment, in addition to communicating meaningful price transparency to help people better understand and anticipate out-of-pocket expenses well in advance of receiving the bill weeks after a visit. Our recently announced innovation partnership with Novant Health will allow us to advance and accelerate key innovation initiatives that extend further into pre-visit patient digital engagement.

Every patient – no matter who they are, what their financial situation is or how they prefer to engage – should be able to take advantage of our platform to achieve the best possible outcomes.

To learn more about how Cedar uses thoughtful design to deliver an exceptional patient financial experience, get in touch with one of our experts today.