Instead, imagine a world where Maria has at her fingertips all the information she needs to make a health care decision. transparency
Using her mobile device, she can pull up an app, enter her location and some basic qualifying information, and hit “search” to instantly review provider ratings and list prices and compare out-of-pocket (OOP) estimates. Everything is organized, clearly defined, and easy to understand. Once she picks her provider, she is directed to a patient portal where she can schedule an appointment, upload images, preregister, and even prepay for her visit to make check-in a breeze. In this utopic vision, Maria’s health care experience feels personalized and uniquely tailored to her medical and financial needs. It is the experience and validation many of us look for before making much less critical decisions such as which phone to buy or which hotel to stay in on vacation. This is a world in which Maria can quickly compare a handful of imaging centers in her area and make a decision based on meaningful information, all without leaving the comfort of her couch.
For many, this world seems like a distant fantasy. Today’s health care reality reflects the status quo of distrust, doubt, and uncertainty that many American patients experience every day.
There is a growing disconnect between patients wanting to shop for their care and hospitals fighting to keep prices a secret.1 Studies show that 60% of patients are more likely to choose a provider that publishes its prices in comparison to the local market,2 yet 75% of respondents in a recent Harvard survey said they were not aware of an existing resource that would allow them to compare costs across different providers.3 Not only was Maria frustrated that she couldn’t find price and quality data for the radiologists, she questioned the underlying reasons for its absence, wondering why providers seem to intentionally make it as difficult as possible. Patients aren’t just dissatisfied anymore—many are becoming fearful and distrustful of a system that seems to be purposefully obscuring information.
One way to regain Maria’s trust is to give her more control over her health care decisions,4 and achieving that level of control requires more information transparency on the part of health care providers. These changes in consumer expectations, paired with disruptive regulation, and even the recent COVID-19 pandemic, are forcing plans and providers to evaluate the intersection points of pricing with their patients. In order to drive meaningful patient engagement, providers should focus on leveraging their brand equity in the market and pair consumer-friendly pricing information with quality metrics and outcomes in a truly authentic manner. We believe the transparency imperative presents an opportunity for consumer engagement and can result in improvements to patient satisfaction and experience, rebuilding consumer trust, and, ultimately, increasing market share.