Patient empowerment through education and engagement programs have been rising in popularity within the healthcare space as it embraces value-based care. Because of this push, we’ve seen an increase in medical devices such as vital tracking wearables and medical tablet pcs loaded up with patient education modules. These patient engagement strategies are all designed to provide a little more transparency on treatments and conditions for patients who want to feel more involved in their healthcare. Unfortunately, while patients are being given more information on conditions, treatment options, and even their own patient data, there’s been a surprisingly less fervent adoption of healthcare price transparency. 

According to a report by InstaMed, 70% of patients report that they are often confused by their medical bills and why they were charged what they were charged. 93% even comment that they weren’t expecting to be billed at all for certain services. Now, this may have been par for the course when dealing with healthcare in the past, however, healthcare price transparency is a must-have if we truly plan to embrace value-based care and all of the benefits it can deliver. Fortunately, we’re seeing a shift away from the old ways of black-box healthcare pricing and towards healthier price transparency and healthcare consumerism. 

What is Healthcare Consumerism?

Healthcare consumerism is the ability patients will have to shop and compare from different healthcare providers once they’ve been informed of how much costs are involved in their treatment. In this scenario, patients could shop for healthcare In much the same way a consumer would shop for a new phone: by researching several brands, comparing features and prices, and then picking the best fit for their budget and preferences. Patients would be able to research which facilities offer the treatments they need for their conditions and how much they cost, allowing them to expand their options instead of just picking a facility out of a hat and praying the bill won’t be too shocking.  

Why is Price Transparency Important in Healthcare?

Price transparency is important because costs can have a notable impact on the type of treatment a patient receives. In many cases, having this knowledge of what treatments a patient can afford can help physicians deliver care plans centered around those treatments as opposed to creating ones that come to a premature stop because a patient cannot afford to continue. Beyond that, there are a few more strong selling points for price transparency in healthcare. 

It Encourages Patients to Come in

A sad but unfortunately true trend we see as a result of poor price transparency in healthcare is the avoidance of healthcare altogether in order to avoid shocking bills. According to a survey conducted by HealthPocket, 78% of patients commented that they’re too afraid to receive care because they’re unsure of how much it’ll cost and whether or not they can even afford it. 91% responded that they would prefer if the cost of medical services were made available to them and that, were they shared, they would compare prices before visiting a hospital.

Price transparency not only brings in more patients, it improves population health as a whole. It encourages patients to start paying more attention to their health and keep up with regular checkups and procedures, unhindered by the fear of a bill from left field.  

It Promotes Value Based Care

Healthcare price transparency isn’t a stand-alone venture. It’s actually pretty closely entwined with value based care, or the idea of charging patients based on the success and value of a treatment. Healthcare price transparency facilitates this value-based care by giving patients more information with which to choose a care provider. 

If patients are given prices on all available treatments and facilities, agency is given to the patient as to who they seek care from, meaning facilities are now competing against each other to deliver the best care for the best price. It’s not enough to simply provide treatment, hospitals and physicians will need to deliver effective treatment to stand out from the competition. 

Of course, no hospital is trying to gouge patients for money while delivering bare minimum care. However, a healthy amount of competition can spur on facilities to take on more strategies to improve quality of care such as enhanced diagnostics with advanced diagnostic imaging PCs or improving patient intake with proper triage practices.

Preparing for Healthcare Price Transparency with HIT Investment

On the topic of technology that can help your facility stand out from the competition, there are quite a few HIT use cases available today that can help you cut down on costs within your facility and pass those savings on to your patients. 

Digital Patient Check-Ins

Paper entry forms, much like paper patient records, are prone to errors and, worse yet, duplication. If a patient’s health information is stored on a paper record and that paper record is later stored digitally, there are now two disparate records on that patient. As they go through their healthcare journey, one of these patient records may be updated while the other isn’t. The problem then arises when a physician uses an outdated record, say, the paper-based one that hasn’t been updated, and uses that record to dictate their treatment options, unaware of the patient’s more recent health developments. A survey conducted by BlackBook even highlighted that duplicate patient record errors such as these cost the healthcare industry billions annually

Paperless healthcare strategies such as moving the check in process to hardware like a medical grade tablet can help your facility bypass those expensive duplicate record errors and convert those savings into lower treatment costs for your patients.     

Eliminate Redundant Visits with Telehealth

Patients love to self-diagnose. And with the internet convincing those patients that every cough or sneeze could be the harbinger of cancer or a deadly viral infection, those self-diagnosing patients love to swarm the ER thinking they need care when in reality all they need is some water and rest. Needless to say, these redundant visits cost money, making them a great issue to address in order to save more money which can help you lower patient costs in the competitive, value-based care market. 

Investment in telehealth technology can give your staff the ability to meet with these patients quickly online to gauge symptoms and answer questions. From there, if a patient isn’t actually in need of emergency care, they can be given some self-treatment options that can be carried out at home, eliminating the need to come in for a more time, and finance, draining visit. 

Price Transparency in Healthcare is Beneficial to Providers and Patients

Price transparency in healthcare ticks all of the boxes when it comes to value based care. Not only does it improve patient outcomes by enticing them to come in and stay on top of their health, it also prompts facilities to improve their services and the quality of their treatments by opening the door for more competition. If you find yourself interested in value-based care and price transparency initiatives, contact an expert from the Cybernet team today.