Healthcare News & Insights

Why hospitals should foster more transparency

The cost and efficiency of care will continue to be a major motivating factor for many patients. They want to know how much services will cost so they can plan their care without breaking the bank. 

137305700But price transparency is one area where many hospitals fall short of patient expectations, according to a recent survey by TransUnion Healthcare, an information management company.

Trouble with pricing

The survey found about two-thirds of respondents said they were consistently surprised by how high their medical bills were. Researchers believe this might be because only 25% of respondents were given pre-treatment cost estimates.

This is problematic, since about 80% of respondents said that pre-treatment estimates would be beneficial in helping them manage costs.

Another issue: Although patients want to know more about the cost of care, a majority said they often struggle to make sense of their bills.

That means if hospitals want to fill the needs of increasingly cost-sensitive patients, they may have to reach out and help patients understand and take steps to create a more transparent culture. It might seem like an additional burden, but being more transparent about costs can have other ripple effects that benefit your facility.

A majority said that upfront estimates were nearly as important to them as factors like bedside manner and correct diagnoses. Similarly, about 84% said cost estimates would have a positive effect on their decision to continue seeing a provider.

Improving transparency

A new report from the National Patient Safety Foundations’ Lucian Leape Institute says more transparency also leads to better outcomes, greater patient safety and reduced costs.

But the problem remains: How can hospitals become more transparent?

For one, there are drills leaders can perform with their staff to gauge how transparent their pricing is.

Additionally, the report gives a number of recommendations about how hospitals can foster transparency, not just in terms of pricing, but also in terms of creating a culture of transparency at your facility. The report tailors its recommendations based on specific groups. 

Some of the recommendations given include:

  • consistently reviewing comprehensive safety performance data
  • establishing methods to adopt best safety practices shared by other organizations
  • being transparent about who sits on your board
  • creating procedures for reporting, analyzing and using data for improvement, and
  • linking promotions and compensation for leaders with transparency.

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