Skip to main content

Recently, our Vice President of Products Matt Parker joined a keynote discussion at WHCC21 with Jim Gallagher from Tufts Health Plan and Tammy Jones from Novant Health. While price transparency was the headline, the panelists focused on the larger picture of what members need today and how providing them with critical information about costs is an avenue to improve the healthcare experience. Below are three key themes that stood out from the panel.

Consumer Demand Will Continue to Drive Innovation in Technology and Transparency

Jones perhaps summarized this theme best, highlighting that price transparency “is ripe for disruption” and that five years from now, “consumers will be savvier than they are today, they’ll be more empowered, ask more questions, and be demanding more of their providers and insurance plans. Those that rise to meet those demands will be in a better place than those that don’t…Consumers will continue to push us to progress further and faster on [price transparency].”

This point is an important one. There’s still a lack of awareness and empowerment as it relates to consumers’ expectations about pricing information in healthcare. In many cases, healthcare entities (hospitals and health plans, primarily) are only doing the bare minimum. But as research shows, people want price transparency in healthcare, and those entities that provide the information in a person-focused way will come out ahead.

The panelists also discussed technology needs. Gallagher shared that in five years he “is hopeful that [price transparency] will be similar to what we do with 401k and banking, the ready access, understanding where we sit with our healthcare finances and how we’re going to use those dollars appropriately as we use healthcare.”

Price Transparency is Just a Piece of the Puzzle

Another main theme was that price transparency is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving member needs, lowering healthcare costs, and driving value for everyone involved. Matt Parker posed the bigger question like this: “How do we guide people to making a decision and figuring out what their options are? Transparency is a key part of that, but it’s just a part of it.”

If we are just sharing cost estimates alone, we are not serving people as best we can as they try to make decisions about their healthcare. We have to not only give people more information but help them understand what the flood of healthcare information means to them and how they can use it as part of their decision making.

Jones dug into the angles of quality and value when it comes to healthcare transparency, stating that “at the end of the day, transparency is about value. Price is only one piece of the equation when we shop for anything; someone may choose to pay more because a provider has an appointment sooner or has more experience. Transparency is not just price.” People need to be given as much information as possible to help them make informed choices, and that includes factors such as provider availability, years of experience in a given procedure or specialty, office locations, hospital affiliations, and more.

The Time for Payer-Provider Collaboration is Now

The opportunities for payers and providers to collaborate to help people understand healthcare pricing better are significant. Creating more awareness about transparency tools is certainly a great place for payers and providers to work together. If providers had access to the out-of-pocket cost information that payers have and could share that with their patients during care planning, more people would be empowered to act on their care with accurate and timely information.

“Making information available and accessible to someone at the point of need is critical,” said Parker. Gallagher echoed that providers can be key to helping distribute price transparency information stating, “providers can be a good mechanism to increase adoption to help people understand that [price transparency] information is available and how to use it. “

If you’d like to hear more from the panel, you can watch the full recording here.