Showing posts with label #transparency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #transparency. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

When Patients Begin Searching for Hospital Price Information, what is Your Response?

Beginning on January 1, 2021, patients should be able to search a hospital or health system website for the prices on 200 standard procedures. Mandated by CMS in 2020, the purpose was to provide a measure of price transparency for patients and consumers when seeking medical care.

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay 

What happened?

In randomly searching the internet on hospitals and health systems websites for pricing information, I found a confusing maze of information.  In all cases, the ability to find and search the information was difficult at best. I know my way around a website, search terms, and the internet as a healthcare provider and vendor marketing professional.  If I have difficulty finding, searching, and using the information to decide, how is a consumer or patient?

Kudos to any hospital or health system that provided an experience that made the information easily accessible, searchable, and user-friendly.

I am sure that over time with prodding from CMS, the ability for a patient to search for a hospital or health systems website for pricing information on 200 standard procedures will improve and be easier to find, more user-friendly, with a better user experience.

Price transparency and a good user experience is not a question of if but when.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

How is the healthcare organization preparing for the eventuality?

In answering the question, there are four strategic dimensions for managing the patient's price search for consideration. 

1.       Marketing Plan - How are you positioning the hospital and the newly available price and shoppable services information in the market, i.e., what the detailed marketing plan? 

2.       Engagement Plan - What are your key messages that need to be delivered to patients and the community? What channels- digital, social, and traditional will be used to provide the key messages? 

3.       Experience Plan - What are the training programs and Q&As created to equip the employees who will most likely face questions from patients and the community regarding your prices and shoppable services? 

4.       Crisis Communications Plan -What are the talking points you will use to defend higher prices in services than your competitors? What are your talking points when you decide to raise your lower process to those of a competitor?

These four dimensions of the patient price information puzzle are not an afterthought. They should foster a much-needed critical strategy discussion and tactical marketing execution in the age of price transparency.  As much as we would like, patient pricing information cannot be left to the "we'll deal with this if any questions come up" strategy, because we made it so difficult to find and use.  Pricing and shoppable service information is becoming a strategic imperative that is an essential part of the organizational, business, financial, marketing, patient engagement, and experience plans.

If it's not, then don't talk about how patient or consumer-focused you are; either walk the talk or don't talk.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at 

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The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

How do you market quality in a healthcare consumer-driven market?

An interesting question isn't it?  Well, I posed  a similar question in my  Healthcare Marketing Matters blog back on March 31, 2013. And so far it’s had 5,200 page views.  Some questions never seem to get answered or go away.  So this is an update looking through the lens of the market changes occurring during the last couple of years.

It presupposes that healthcare consumers have some kind of idea of what they need in the way of healthcare services. 

Yes and no.

On one side yes, in that medical care is complex and diagnosis is not as easy as reading a book or talking to someone. But the healthcare consumer, once they realize that their wellness is not to what they normally experience will more often than not seek medical advice as to the cause of the illness.  Then in seeking that medical advice they begin the process of gaining the necessary information to make reasonable decisions, or at the very least to participate in the process.

On the other side no, in that once the healthcare consumer has acquired a basic understand of what is medically wrong, they have now the ability to use quality data to make choices on where to seek treatment along several dimensions, their direct  cost, aka out-of-pocket expenses such as deductible and co-pays, and indirect costs such as time, convenience, travel requirements, access,  time away from work etc., on where to receive the care they need at the right time, for the right cost, in the right setting.

In a consumer-driven retail medical model, real quality data, not pretty award logos is what is required for the transparency that a healthcare consumer seeking care can use to make reasonable decisions.

Because of the lack of transparency around quality and outcomes, the healthcare consumer assumes that quality is equal among competing providers.  This brings us full circle back to the issue of being quality transparent in patient experience and engagement marketing to the healthcare consumer and why it hasn’t happened?

It is meaningless to tell a healthcare consumer that that the chance of acquiring a post-surgical hospital infection is .85 at the 95 percent confidence level. That is from their view statistical mumbo jumbo. 

What the healthcare consumer wants to know is that 1 in 1,000 surgical patients acquire a hospital post-surgical infection.  That the medication error rate is 10 in 250 patients.  Or the risk  of an acquired hospital infection is 1 in 10,000. Another is the risk of falling is 1 in 50 patients.  Just. Like. That.

Placing your quality information in those terms is meaningful and useful to the healthcare consumer and patient.  Not as I continue to see in so many provider advertisements the all encompassing we have “great quality” claims and look at this newest “award”!

At this stage of the evolution of healthcare consumerism and retail medicine, providers need to start figuring out how to communicate quality metrics in terms that are meaningful and understandable.
There are no easy answers.  The only way is by engaging the patient and the healthcare consumer, understand what they are searching for, and find the right channels and messages to communicate with them.

The healthcare consumer will spend out-of-pocket over $350 billion in 2015 for insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.  They have the right to know. It’s their real money.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.