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Design Challenge Aims to Make Medical Bills Simple

There’s no current standard for medical bills — bills can vary widely in content, presentation, and use of medical jargon— and they are often confusing for patients. Many wind up unsure of what they actually owe, to whom they owe it, or why they even owe it in the first place.


Amy Cueva

That’s why Amy Cueva, founder and Chief Experience Officer for Mad*Pow, a design agency that strives to help improve the experience people have with technology, was excited when the US Department of Health and Human Services approached her company to create a challenge to address to this very problem.

A Bill You Can Understand is a national challenge that tasks teams to come up with innovate solutions that address the complexity of medical billing. Participants must submit a design brief, a short video, visual compositions of their product, and a journey map that highlights the changes from a patient’s point of view. Mad*Pow, with HHS and AARP, is offering two $5,000 prizes — one for the easiest bill to understand, and one for the most transformational approach to the problem

Cueva says the challenge is designed to foster solutions that will actually hit the medical marketplace. “HHS has lined up pilot partner associations that have agreed to work with winning designs to implement [them] in whole or in part,” she says. She also says that the dual prizes are designed to help completely streamline the medical billing process. “We wanted to have one approach be focused on incremental innovation — take the existing structure and improve it. Make the design of the bill better so it wouldn’t be too much of a reach to have many hospitals adopt and implement this design. But we [also] wanted to reach farther, and look at disruptive innovation.”

Preregistration for the A Bill You Can Understand challenge started earlier this month, and Cueva says there is already over one hundred teams showing interest. “There are so many people in the health industry who are passionate about improving the experience of health, and the fact that the government is recognizing that design can be a method to help us improve the patient experience —I think that’s huge,” Cueva says. “There’s a lot of people who want to apply their talent to stimulate innovation in a place that hasn’t seen too much of it. I’m very hopeful that we’ll have a solution that will hit the marketplace.”

People looking to apply their own talent to this challenge can pre-register here. The deadline to submit an idea is August 10th, 2016. More information about the parameters, the prizes, and the sponsors of the event can be found on the official challenge website.

Casey Nugent

Casey Nugent

    Casey Nugent is an editorial intern for MedTech Boston. She’s currently working on her BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. Outside of working at MedTech Boston, Casey enjoys drinking coffee, going to the theater, goofing around with friends, and hanging out with dogs.

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