Who’s Paying the Pied Piper? The Cost Clarity Imperative For Your Practice
New Subaru or New Hip?
Most of us have purchased a car at least once in our lifetime. The sticker price gives you an idea of the price upfront, but the actual price depends on a complex array of factors you negotiate with a sales agent including your financing package, features and add-ons, and dealer-specific discounting. Powering the math is software that organizes the data to arrive at a unique cost. As a result, no two buyers pay the same price for the same car.
If you are a medical provider or administrator, now think of your practice. Each patient’s out-of-pocket costs will vary based on their insurance benefits, state of residence, medical history, and the site of care. So just as in the case of purchasing a car, no two patients pay the same out-of-pocket for the same procedure. The difference? Unlike a car buyer, patients often are completely left in the dark regarding price until after they’ve signed on the dotted line.
Not so happy surprises
Just as with any other major financial decision in their lives, your patients consider questions like, “What will my out-of-pocket costs be? Do I have payment options? Are there less expensive choices?” Unfortunately, most practices cannot provide adequate answers to these questions, and patients are growing increasingly frustrated.
As practices interwoven within your community, you enjoy intimate, longstanding relationships with patients. That trust is thrown into jeopardy when a provider proposes a treatment that unintentionally causes a financial burden down the line.
Some practices have responded by employing staff to assemble patient cost estimates manually, a painstaking task. Yet even this time-consuming effort often fails to produce a patient’s true out-of-pocket responsibility, leaving you holding the bag and burning a relationship. And even if the estimate is on target, this manual process creates more administrative costs for your organization, threatens further employee burnout, and challenges your financial solvency.
First mover advantage
In the past, there wasn’t much of a choice for medical practices. Either attempt cost transparency and risk being wrong while incurring more operational costs, or leave your patients in the dark and rely on your clinical expertise to win the day.
However, this is no longer the case. Healthcare policy and digital solutions are slowly orienting US healthcare towards more patient cost transparency. How you respond to the move to more patient cost transparency will determine your place in the healthcare universe.
Will you resist the change, like many large health systems and insurance companies? Or will you see this as an opportunity to not just give your patients the upfront cost clarity they deserve, but also, position yourself as a leader in your market and community?
I think you know the answer, so, in order to become a first mover, the next step is simple. Find a cost clarity platform that works for you (we certainly have one that we would recommend), and take the double win: attract more patients while slashing overhead cost. Claim victory…you deserve it.