In the complex world of healthcare, fee publishing is a tricky business. You don’t want to give your patients the wrong impression by publishing fees that may not apply to their situation. If publishing fees will lead to patient confusion, it may be best not to. But for most practices, publishing a list of your most common fees can be very helpful and a great way to build patient trust.
Think of it, no other industry asks you to commit to purchasing without giving you the pricing. The only reason healthcare gets away with it is because patients generally trust their doctor. Or they find themselves in need of medical attention with little choice of where to obtain it. But those reasons may soon face some big challenges.
With the entry of super-sized corporations those reasons may soon give way to a new way of doing things. The news of an Amazon, Berkshire-Hathaway, JP Morgan partnership should be a clear call to everyone to pay attention to making the patient experience as good as it can possibly be. Can you imagine Amazon – the convenience and customer experience giant – offering something that doesn’t make that experience transparent and simple?
It’s a clear call for practices to do everything they can to up their games. One of the most patient-friendly ways to do that is to make pricing as transparent as possible. If you are not already, why not try? Start by picking a number of your most common charges. Do you have standard pricing for them without regard to insurances? If so, what are the pros and cons of publishing them for your patients? Make a list.
If the cons outweigh the pros, don’t publish them. If you can’t find any compelling reasons not to publish, give it a three-month trial. Start with a simple hand out or poster in your waiting room and gauge the reaction. If you want a firm grasp on the impact, take a survey of patients. Ask them if it helps them to know the costs before being treated. I think you know what the response will be.
Once you’ve done your trial, decide whether or not to continue, even to add more services to the list. This simple offering of transparency should boost trust for your patients. Word of mouth will build and patient panels will grow as your practice continues to find ways to serve them. If practices will take steps to simplify and clarify billing and services, they will have what it takes to compete with whatever market forces the future holds.