Sutter Health has struck a deal to move 102 jobs and one of its business units to downtown Concord, exiting San Francisco, the health care provider said Thursday.

The health services firm is relocating a patient billing unit from San Francisco's South of Market district, an area that has become a digital hotbed, driving up office rents.

"Saving money is a big factor," said Kevin McCormack, a spokesman for Sutter Health. "This saves us a lot of money on rent. The patient billing work could be done anywhere."

With health care costs rising throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere, Sutter Health has embarked on a quest to rein in costs to keep prices as affordable as possible for its patients.

"This is part of a systemwide affordability program for Sutter Health," McCormack said. "Anything we can do to reduce overhead helps reduce costs."

Sutter Health rented 25,000 square feet at One Concord Center at 2300 Clayton Road, according to Cornish & Carey commercial real estate brokers who arranged the lease.

"We are starting to see some signs that companies from San Francisco are looking to come to the East Bay," said Breck Lutz, a Cornish & Carey senior vice president.

Defections from San Francisco could intensify because a host of social networking and other high-tech companies have begun to gobble up offices in that city.

"Companies that don't have to be in San Francisco are starting to look here," Lutz said. "The East Bay has affordable housing, a strong, educated labor pool, good economics and affordable housing."

The patient-billing unit of Sutter Health that will exit San Francisco by early September is located at 2nd and Folsom streets, an epicenter of tech activity.

"This is a popular neighborhood for social media, dot-com and gaming companies," McCormack said.

A few months ago, Patelco Credit Union shifted its headquarters out of San Francisco and moved to Pleasanton, bringing 180 jobs to the East Bay. Near the Pleasant Hill BART station in Walnut Creek, San Francisco-based Union Bank decided to launch a work hub for employees.

"A migration to the East Bay is starting and we have direct evidence of that now," said Edward Del Beccaro, managing director with realty firm Grubb & Ellis. "Rents are increasing in San Francisco."

Sutter expects to be in its new offices by Sept. 1.

"We're very pleased that Sutter Health is moving this operation to Concord," said John Montagh, city redevelopment manager. "It's definitely a good sign these companies are coming to Concord. We are looking forward to more of this."

Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.