The change will affect billing at St. Joseph Hospital, a number of specialty practices and five offsite primary care clinics in the Bangor area.
Covenant, affiliated with the Catholic church, also owns St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston and St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire. The billing change is related to the system-wide implementation of an electronic medical record that requires patient information to be standardized and readily accessible across all sites.
The electronic medical record allows patients to access and download their medical information, request an appointment or ask about a health concern online. The goal is to improve patient care, eliminate duplication of tests and procedures, and streamline administrative functions, according to Covenant.
“In order for us to fully implement the [electronic medical record] system, we had to look at the way we did business at each facility,” Covenant spokeswoman Karen Sullivan said. “It has applied to every single aspect of our day-to-day operations,” including the consolidation of administrative areas such as billing.
Lewiston was chosen as the consolidation site because of its geographic position at the center of the Covenant system.
Patients will see a simplified billing statement that reflects all elements of care received in the Covenant system, from office visits and laboratory testing to medical procedures and hospitalization. Patients with questions about their bills and accounts will still be able to speak with representatives based in Bangor, Sullivan said.
“I don’t think there’s anything that can undermine the feeling of support and personal connection St. Joe’s has in the Bangor community,” Sullivan said. “It’s rooted in our mission.”
The change has created 12 new positions in Lewiston. Sullivan said billing staff in Bangor have known about the change for months and may relocate to Lewiston without having to apply for those jobs. Those who want to stay in Bangor were encouraged to apply for other positions with St. Joseph Healthcare as they become available. Five billing employees already have accepted new jobs within the system, she said.
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