Three Best Practices to Improve Healthcare Price Transparency

A patient with clasped hands seeks greater healthcare price transparency from his doctor.
Patients need easy access to healthcare information to make informed decisions. Practices must create an open dialogue around price to create a more transparent experience.

When consumers can’t easily access basic information on cost and quality of their healthcare, they don’t know how to select the most efficient and effective service. This leads to increased costs for all parties. With high deductible healthcare plans becoming the new normal, it is more important than ever that patients understand all of their financial options. Delivering greater healthcare price transparency has become an essential tool in getting practices paid on time with greater accuracy.

It’s easy to advocate for price transparency, but actually implementing it within a practice can be more challenging. There are a few best practices that are universal. Implementing these will go a long way in providing a more transparent experience for patients.

1. Upfront financial discussions

A patient sits with his doctor at a table discussing healthcare price transparency
Practices must provide patients with crucial information pertaining to their cost of service.

Giving an accurate financial picture to patients prior to their procedures helps them plan for these expenses. Without crucial information about out-of-pocket costs, patients are unable to make the most informed decision regarding their treatment options. Being informed allows patients to act more like consumers would in any other industry. This type of healthcare price transparency is shown to improve overall patient satisfaction and helps speed up back-end collections.

Best Practice:  Provide patients with information on network status and out of pocket costs at least 2 days prior to medical procedures. It is important to do this through an automated workflow to maintain an efficient office environment. We recommend working with a software solution that allows practices to automatically generate patient financial statements that can be sent to patients prior to office visits.

2. Educate patients about benefits

Patient confusion surrounding health insurance plans has increased as financial responsibility shifts from payers to patients. As a practice, it is important to manage expectations from the start. This helps patients understand the fees associated with their visit in advance. Because this information is confusing for patients, practices should check insurance eligibility as soon as possible to ensure patients are not blindsided by large medical bills. Providing this level of healthcare price transparency is shown to instill trust between patient and provider. It also helps practices collect revenue in a timelier manner.

Best Practice:  Start the conversation around payment as soon as possible by providing out of pocket cost estimates. Make sure to provide patients with a written disclaimer regarding their financial responsibility for any out of network fees. Providing this type of information to patients allows them to understand their costs and make informed decisions. This leads to overall higher patient satisfaction.

3. Easy access to standard charges

Patients expect to be able to look up the cost of procedures quickly and easily, just like they would for a consumer good. Giving them a digital experience maximizes their engagement. By enabling patients to shop for services online, practices are delivering meaningful healthcare price transparency. This in turn allows for financial conversations with patients that allow practices to collect from patients prior to service. Over 40% of patients worry about the cost of their care, so having easy access to procedure costs can reduce patient anxiety significantly.

Best Practice:  Post and maintain a list of standard charges in a publicly accessible place such as the practice website or patient portal. Consider finding a tool that allows for patient-facing cost estimates.

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