Infographic: Radiology Facts

 

 

In the words of our marketing team; “These are like Snapple facts but better!”

Don’t tell us radiology facts aren’t fun. We put together this infographic sharing some random factoids about the diagnostic imaging industry. Some of these things, even we didn’t know! Now go forth and impress all your friends with your newfound radiology trivia prowess… Diagnostic Imaging Radiology Facts Feel free to share this infographic with your own followers!

 

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Real Patients Need Real Prices

With consumerism in healthcare on the rise and an increased focus on price transparency for health costs, our industry is looking at patients more and more as consumers. There are two real problems with that, one being that the way patients shop for health services is completely different than the way they shop for goods and the other being that each and every patient has their own unique situation based on their needs, their location and their coverage. Due to these factors, we are required to look at patients as people rather than consumers.

Some patients struggle to identify themselves as consumers in the health care shopping process, whether it is out of confusion, frustration or disinterest. Changes brought about by The Affordable Care Act however, have led people to take a more active role in comparing and selecting their care providers. With prices varying so much from state-to-state, city-to-city and even provider-to-provider however, it becomes seriously challenging for patients to know what is fair in terms of costs for procedures.

Our goal is to help reach out to real people so they can find real costs, not just estimates. When patients are relying solely on guesses to what their total will be versus a true price, they can end up with steep bills in the thousand-dollar range. No one likes those. Scouring the Twitter-sphere, trying to gain some real insight on how patients are reacting to health care costs, we realized a surprising amount of people using the social media forum as a sounding board to air their grievances with health costs. So we thought, we might as well answer their questions!

Steep MRI prices

Steep MRI prices don’t have to ruin your day!

 

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Dr. Jon Cohen on Consumerism in Health Care

We’re going into the vaults this week to bring back a TEDMED Video from 2012, where Dr. Jon Cohen, the CMO of Quest Diagnostics, discusses the nature of consumerism in health care. He makes a great analogy comparing the way Americans shop for their televisions to the way we “shop” for our doctors. He jokes about his friend shopping for a new HD-TV, reading online forums and review sites, learning about pixel sizes and external ports, asking him, “When did you get your PhD in TV’s?” He goes on to explain that once his friend finally selected the model he wanted to purchase, that he couldn’t simply buy the TV and move on. No, his friend needed to go to a few more stores to ensure that he got the best price on that TV.

Now, the average 50” HD TV is going to cost somewhere between $500 and $1,000, which is comparable to the cost of an MRI in Tampa, Florida, depending on where you would go for the procedure. So why wouldn’t you shop around for the MRI the same way you’d shop for your next TV?

“Did you know that the average American spends twice as much time researching what TV to buy than deciding which physician to choose?”

Cohen points out that shopping for a television is the ultimate consumer experience because it relies on three important components; the price of the product or service, its level of quality and the consumer’s desire for the product or service. Consumer-driven healthcare, on the other hand, is not so simple. The idea that consumerism in healthcare would lower costs was reliant on patients spending wisely, but it isn’t working out that way for a number of reasons.

First of all, it’s normally assumed that price is a reflection of value, however the concept of value in health care is not easily recognized. Cohen says for instance that you should be able to discern the difference in value between a $20,000 car versus an $80,000 car. When it comes to diagnosing and treating patients however, two physicians could be paid the same amount, while one could have given the appropriate prescription and the other could have misdiagnosed the same patient.

The next issue is that the quality of a physician is very subjective, making it hard to tell the difference between Dr. A and Dr. B. Some patients judge a physician based on topical things like convenient parking, comfortable waiting rooms or even having snacks available. Cohen points out that these things are really more of a judgment of the practice’s level of service, rather than quality. He says that quality in medicine is truly an indication of experience and good judgment; unfortunately there are no consumer reports for patients to look up those metrics.

Lastly and probably most importantly, consumerism requires a certain level of consumer desire. Patients simply don’t want to have to spend their hard earned dollars on health care. Cohen said that out of a group of physicians surveyed, less than 50% had gotten their colonoscopy screenings, even after their organizations tried incentivizing them with $5,000 bonuses if they went in for their stress test, colonoscopy and annual physical.

He says that really, the only case where patients actively shop around for affordable medical procedures is when they are getting cosmetic surgery because it’s something they truly want and can see the quality of the results. Intense desire trumps all barriers, showing that if someone wants something badly enough, they are willing to go out of their way to find a deal.

 

You can watch the full video of Dr. Cohen’s speech here:

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37 Stages of Reading Medical Bills

You’re leaving the hospital after spending an hour getting an MRI. You’re already annoyed that you just spent your lunch hour in a tube, lying perfectly still to the sounds of what can only be described as MRI Techno Tunes. Or would that be considered dub step?

2. You think of all the things you could buy with $60.

3. You bitterly realize you’ll need to eat Ramen noodles this week for dinner if you want to also fill up your gas tank.

4. You drive home feeling sad and a little taken advantage of.

5. Fast-forward three months….

6. You check your mail hoping for this month’s Birchbox or at least a J.Crew catalogue to flip through.

7. Nope, instead you’re gifted with an ominous looking letter from your area hospital.

8. You hesitantly open the envelope, hoping it’s a “Thank You” letter for choosing them for your MRI.

9. Incorrect, it is a bill.

10. Didn’t I already pay for this?

11. Choke on your own breath.

12. $1,300 dollars?!

Medical Bills

Expensive Medical Bills (From Costs of Care)

13. You have to live on the streets.

14. You have to sell your car.

15. Why do you even have insurance?

16. This cannot possibly be correct.

17. This bill must have been meant for someone else; some other person by the same name as you with the same Social Security number and address.

18. Anger sets in.

19. You’re blinded by rage.

20. Who can you call to complain to about this?

21. Ghostbusters seems like the obvious choice, but ultimately ineffective.

22. AH-HA! You have found an 800 number to call.

23. You feel sorry for the wrath that is about to be unleashed on this poor unsuspecting victim.

24. Wait; are you not calling the hospital? What is this company you’ve never heard of?

25. “How many buttons do I have to press to talk to a human?”

26. Success!  You have trudged through the robot phone tree to speak with an actual live being.

27. Who is this foreign person you’re speaking with?

28. “Did I not Press 1 for English?”

29. Why would your hospital hire a billing company that is not based in America?

30. “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE SAYING.”

31. You finally learn that your insurance company only covered part of the cost for your MRI and THIS heartbreaking bill is what you’re now responsible for paying.

32. Your knee doesn’t even hurt anymore… but your wallet does.

33. There is a good chance you’re going to have a heart attack right now.

34. You’ll probably need another MRI if you do actually go into cardiac arrest though.

35. Couldn’t there have been a cheaper way for all of this to go down?

36. Oh wait, you could have saved 50% if you had just paid out-of-pocket and booked your MRI through Save On Medical?

37. “Now you tell me.”

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Where Our Prices Come From

Price transparency doesn’t have to be unattainable for practices in our country. Oftentimes though, coming up with the prices to advertise to patients is the hardest part for providers.  At Save On Medical, we like to consider ourselves the transparency experts and we’ve had quite a bit of experience helping practices all over the country establish fair self-pay pricing for their consumer-driven patients.

The first step in understanding where we get the rates on our website, is to understand the difference between COST and PRICE.  At the Health Data-Palooza  (#hdpalooza) conference in Washington DC this week, this was a huge talking point. Charles Webster, MD tweeted, “Cost: actual amount of money to create & deliver product Price: actual amount of money someone will pay for product.” Recognizing this can help patients understand where price variations come from.

Now, when it comes to setting prices for procedures, we take a number of variables into consideration.  Every provider on our website has the power to set their own pricing, even lowering prices for procedures during months with low patient volume or during months where they are promoting a specific service at a lower cost. (Ex: Discounted Screening Mammograms during October)

Our team of pricing experts uses a proprietary algorithm that is an aggregate of:

  • CMS/Insurance Provider fee schedules
  • Published research and reports on healthcare transparency
  • Pricing-focused consumer research websites
  • Independent Research by Save On Medical team
  • Data from Members on our site

We collect all this information and take an average to get a clear look at the self-pay price in any specific region. This is the “Typical Price In This Area.”

The “Average Price” we list is the average of the Save On Medical rates we list on our website. This way, patients can see how much they can save by scheduling their procedures through our website.

Average Price of MRI in Tampa

Average Save On Medical price for an Abdominal MRI in Tampa, Florida

The price variations in healthcare can be confusing for patients because they assume that the price is reflective of that provider’s level of quality. However, quality does not have any relation to cost. It is for that reason, that transparency must encompass not just price, but also a way of measuring a provider’s quality. Our

Docometer™ Grading Scale helps patients weigh price vs. benefits and allows patients to determine which aspects of care is of most importance to them.

The grade encompasses things like the number of onsite radiologists, awards, accreditations, technology, patient reviews, convenience etc. The information is gathered through an interview process with your practice’s Save On Medical representative, a questionnaire and additional research performed by Save On Medical’s team. The score is impossible to manipulate in order to deliver patients with unbiased and honest metrics.

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