By Patrick Creagh, Marketing Specialist photo (36)

I have a neat little way of explaining my job to people outside of the healthcare industry.

This past weekend I took some time off to backpack around Los Angeles for the first time.  My hike from Loyola University to Hollywood required 3 buses and 2 train transfers, about 2 hours of traveling and at least 4 instances of asking for directions.

Most in Los Angeles commute by cars, causing the notoriously bad traffic.  Public transportation is therefore limited to daily commuters without cars and clueless tourists like myself.  Luckily, the laid-back vibes that seem to emanate from the California breeze made it relatively easy to pick up conversations with my fellow passengers. Almost always, the question following “where are you from? “ is “what do you do?”

I’m well aware that if I start talking about hospital revenue cycle or declining Medicare reimbursement rates, eyes glaze over and my new friends will write me off as some health IT geek.

Instead I respond with 2 questions. The first one is, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how difficult is paying a medical bill?” The answer I get is 5, sometimes the occasional 4. I’ve never heard a 3,2, or 1 from someone outside the industry.

Then I ask, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how difficult is making a purchase on” The response is always 1. After all, who hasn’t purchased from Amazon or really any online store?

“My job is to bring that medical bill 5 down to a 1,” I reply. They understand Patientco in 30 seconds.

Rules, regulations, and requirements invite complexity into our healthcare system. As fully immersed participants of the industry, we have a grasp of these concepts (well, to a certain extent anyway) but our patients don’t.

So let’s not make it complicated.