Demands for quality and price transparency in all sectors of healthcare have journalists, patients and healthcare companies alike, believing that it could be the cure-all for our broken system. Billions of dollars have been reported over-spent in the industry and it is clear that we need a solution, so why is it so hard for doctors to accept that transparency could be the first step?
As care providers, there are a number of issues that we could have with the full transparency model. The most apparent is a doctor’s concern with being commoditized, especially if their procedures are considered high-ticket price services. If a patient has to come out-of-pocket to pay for a procedure, the likelihood that the procedure will be put off is high. This is a common concern for radiologists especially, who have uninsured patients or patients in need of studies for elective procedures.
What most physicians concerned about commoditization don’t realize, is that by “succumbing” to transparency, they can become more competitive with their pricing strategies. For example, if a patient is able to compare your quality in comparison with your less appealing competition and your pricing is the same, your patient can make their own educated decision and a wiser choice. You can bet 10-to-1 that when pricing is the same, higher quality will win out, even in healthcare where high price does not necessarily point to high quality.
Traditionally, patients have made their care decisions based off of word of mouth. Whether a family member, friend or their physician advises them; other people’s opinions of your practice matter to your potential patients. So, most commonly if a doctor tells a patient they need further care, the patient will go wherever they tell them to go. Times, they are a’changing though. Patients are becoming more consumer-driven which means that having your pricing and quality available makes you more accessible to a growing patient population.
For particularly price-sensitive patients, listing yourself on transparency websites could make all the difference, especially if other similar or competing practices are still batting the need for transparency. It is equally as helpful to referring offices with patients in need of affordable options, because they won’t have to waste time calling around to various practices for pricing.
Physicians do not like to change their ways. It is as simple as that. Transparency however, is an aspect of change that is on the horizon for all of us, just as much as EMRs and social media, so the sooner you jump on board, the better.