Last week in Orlando, Florida, some of the most innovative Health IT minds gathered for the HIMSS 2014 Conference to share ideas for improved health care delivery and industry success. One of the conference’s biggest draws, was a keynote speech delivered by Hilary Clinton. She praised the conference and its historically ground-breaking success to a room overflowing with people. She pointed out that HIMSS has inspired innumerable IT innovations that have lead to increased efficiency in medicine, improved quality of care and decreased costs over the last 50 years.
Clinton’s goal in the senate was to promote EHRs, which most health care providers across the country have transitioned to over the last year. EHR systems make keeping medical records straight and accessible more seamless, improving care delivery and changing patient access to their records. She notes that seeing this transformation first-hand has lead her to recognizing more room for improvement in the system.
Photo Courtesy of HIMSS
She commented saying, “We need more transparency in our health care system. We need to drive improvements in health IT to make it easier to get data on how much treatments cost so providers, payers and consumers can make better, more informed decisions. But if things aren’t working, we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence based changes.”
Transparency alone will not necessarily improve care, lower costs or expand coverage to those that need it, but health IT and more robust data will help us to gain better insight into the most efficient ways to reach those goals. It makes sense that with improved technology will come more valuable data which is followed by a better understanding of the health care and patient landscapes, giving price transparency power-players like ourselves (shameless bragging) the ability to enact change.
Cheers to all those at HIMSS 2014 this year, we are looking forward to forging the path towards affordable care, price transparency and quality-based health care consumerism.
In the past few weeks a number of articles have been written discussing how the U.S. can bring health care costs out of hiding, making them more accessible to patients. To steal a line from the web, most health care providers would say, “the struggle is real.” Let’s just clear the air, this struggle is in fact, not real. On the contrary, this “challenge” is just an impending shift in our industry, one that patients are asking for and providers will adopt.
So why does price transparency seem so hard to accomplish? Insurers are able to negotiate prices with hospitals, and each of the payers have different contracts. The list prices cover the costs of running the hospital and are traditionally steep and payers are able to navigate around those prices, thus shifting costs to those who are uninsured. All this means, that a hospital can’t leak their true costs because they vary from person to person.
The larger issue at hand is that physicians simply don’t want to show their prices. They’re afraid of their prices being undercut by their competitors. Physicians all around the country are likely closing their browser windows as they read this, but the sooner they bring their prices to the table, the better.
Patients can see this as a cop out, as an article in NPR pointed out, healthcare is the only commodity that buyers don’t get to know prices before they pay. Massachusetts’ new experiment in health care shopping proves that healthcare costs can be shown to the benefit of consumer-driven patients. Save On Medical has been promoting price and quality transparency since 2011. We started with just showing costs of radiology procedures, which is where patients can get the most savings by shopping around. So while many writers consider transparency to be “radical,” they’re wrong. It’s just the next step.
As avid twitter-ers, we have come into contact with innumerable patients expressing their fears, complaints and outright frustrations within the world of medical imaging. From those who are afraid of getting their first MRI to those who complain about racking up yet another $4,000 MRI (not a typo). We’ve made it our mission to be a resource for patients, using our website to help them find affordable, yet high quality care in the U.S. What better way to expand our reach and be of better use to our patients than to be there for them on Twitter?
We went on and looked for tweeps who were first airing their (completely legitimate) complaints about MRI costs and reached out to them, hoping to help them save some money. The tweets below are just a few of the individuals who are being affected by these high cost procedures. Just imagine, these are only a few posts from the last couple of days. How many more patients are experiencing these challenges and aren’t even taking to Twitter to air their grievances?
This year for Valentine’s Day, we’re rewarding our sweeties with low cost radiology procedures on our website. Oh wait, that’s every day?
Happy Valentine’s Day anyway.