In January, Intermountain announced the expansion of our existing partnership with R1, one of the nation’s leading healthcare revenue cycle companies. R1 will provide all revenue cycle services for Intermountain beginning April 8. About 2,300 Intermountain revenue cycle employees in areas like patient registration, billing, and scheduling will be switching to R1 as their employer at their current rates of pay.

Here are five key points about the arrangement:

  1. We put patients first. If there are better ways to provide services to our patients, we have a duty to explore them. Our expanded partnership with R1 is an example of a different approach that will create higher value for our patients.
  2. Partnering preserves jobs. The R1 arrangement will help us preserve jobs—and avoid layoffs—for our revenue cycle employees. All employees will retain a job at their current rate of pay, but with R1 instead of Intermountain. They do not have to reapply for their jobs. Every employee in good standing will be offered a job at R1. Moreover, the transitioning employees will have new opportunities for career growth with R1, which serves other many other clients besides Intermountain. Revenue cycle operations is a specialty field in its own right, and we expect employees will find R1 offers many chances to develop professionally.
  3. We’ll achieve greater affordability. The arrangement will help us provide more affordable care, without compromising quality and service. Because R1 specializes in registration, billing, and scheduling, and because of the excellent software they’ve developed, they can provide revenue cycle services better at a lower cost. For example, their software will help Intermountain more effectively bill insurance companies for medical care provided to patients they cover. Improved billing accuracy reduces inappropriate claim denials that require interventions to resolve, so savings result when accuracy improves. Another example is reducing cost by reducing the number of bills that need to be sent. Every year, Intermountain prepares and sends out about 6 million bills. Over three years that’s 18 million bills. Each billing statement costs about $6 to prepare and send. R1 can help reduce the number of bills that need to be sent, significantly reducing the expense.
  4. We’ll improve the patient experience. Our patients will have improved experiences under R1, through faster and more accurate billing. As in the example above, fewer patients will be caught in the middle of billing issues between insurers and providers. Since Intermountain began working with R1 in 2012, R1 has always followed Intermountain’s high standards for caring interactions with patients.
  5. We’ll contribute to economic growth. R1 will base some of its national operations in Utah, creating hundreds of new jobs in the state. R1 has more than 10,000 employees and partners with several of the country’s largest not-for-profit health organizations, providing revenue cycle services for nearly 300 hospitals. 

Reactions to the announcement have been mixed. While initial media reports were relatively balanced, a recent article recounted some legal issues from R1’s early years of operation outside Utah. “While these issues were known to Intermountain, our experience in working with R1 has been very positive,” said Rob Allen, Intermountain’s Chief Operating Officer. He noted that since Intermountain began working with R1, their leadership has changed, and the company has continually strengthened its processes to ensure compassionate patient interactions and regulatory compliance. Other major health systems, such as Ascension (one of the nation’s largest faith-based not-for-profit healthcare organizations), also contract with R1.

“Key to our partnership agreement is R1’s commitment to honor our mission,” Allen said. “They’re as committed to our mission of helping people live the healthiest lives possible as we are, or we wouldn’t be doing this.”