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5 ways to improve cost transparency at your healthcare practice

Providing greater price transparency could help boost patient satisfaction.

Doctor discusses cost with patient

If you think patients can’t put a price on their health, think again. When seeking medical care, cost is one of the most important factors people take into consideration.

Nearly three-quarters of patients (70 percent) are somewhat or very concerned about managing their healthcare bills, according to an Intuit Health survey. Additionally, two-thirds believe their healthcare costs will rise in the future.

Cost transparency is closely tied to patient satisfaction rates. Here’s some advice to help you get on the same page with your patients.

How to provide greater price transparency at your practice

1. Add prices for out-of-pocket services to service webpages

Nearly one-quarter of people (24 percent) make medical decisions based on cost, according to Accenture. Therefore, including prices for out-of-pocket services such as aesthetic procedures can increase patient satisfaction levels.

When patients have easy access to price lists, they can make informed decisions. Listing this information on your website also eases the burden on your staff because they won’t constantly have to answer questions on pricing.

Related: How to boost patient satisfaction by empowering your staff

2. Provide patients with personalized cost estimates

Insurance coverage is just as diverse as your patient base. Consequently, different people will have different out-of-pocket costs for services typically covered by insurance.

While 41 percent of Millennials are willing to seek estimates before receiving care, only 21 percent of Baby Boomers and 18 percent of seniors have taken this step, according to PNC Healthcare. Therefore, it’s not surprising that one-in-five people cite unexpected or surprise bills as their top billing-related issue.

Creating personalized cost estimates for each patient helps them know where they stand financially. This allows them to make informed decisions on their care based on what they can afford.

Check out: 6 tips to boost Millennial patient satisfaction

3. Explain that estimates aren’t exact

One-third of patients who requested a price estimate (34 percent) received a final bill that was higher than the quote, according to PNC. You know estimates aren’t always exact, but patients often expect them to perfectly align.

Avoid confusion — and the frustration that accompanies it — by making it clear that estimates are only a ballpark figure. Explain the reason any discrepancies could occur, so people know what to expect. If necessary, advise them to budget a certain percentage more than the estimate, so they’re not caught off guard.

4. Encourage patients to double-check prices with their insurer

Nearly half of patients (41 percent) do not have confidence their healthcare bills are correct, according to Intuit. In some cases, this could be caused by billing errors, but it could also be due to not understanding their insurance coverage.

Increase patient satisfaction rates by encouraging people to contact their insurer to discuss their specific medical plan. This will help them learn more about price differences between in-network and out-of-network coverage, for example, so they know exactly where they stand.

Infographic: Low patient satisfaction causes and how to address them

5. Be upfront about all care provided

All patients have the right to know what’s going on with their own bodies but, unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. 

Only 68 percent of Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X feel their doctor is transparent about the care they receive — i.e. tests that will be conducted and why — according to Accenture. This number rises to 76 percent for Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, but that’s still only three-quarters.

Avoid confusion by explaining all tests and procedures before they’re performed. This gives patients the opportunity to decline services they’re not sure they can afford and better understand their medical bills.

Read: 10 things patients wish they could tell their healthcare providers

Cost transparency plays a huge role in patient satisfaction levels. Therefore, it’s important to be open and honest with patients about services performed and their prices.

If patients don’t trust you, they won’t continue seeking your care. Encouraging people to be proactive about anticipated medical expenses shows you’re taking care of them on all fronts — and that will not go unnoticed.

Check out our infographic What patients want: 30 statistics about patient experience to gain more valuable insight into patient preferences and expectations.

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