The American Hospital Association has assembled a toolkit for its members in order to improve their price transparency.
The toolkit, which is available through AHA's Community Connections blog, includes a checklist, nine case studies involving member hospitals and examples of Web-based tools that promote price transparency. These tools include Tennessee-based Baptist Memorial Care's "expense navigator" tool; the Washington State Hospital Association pricing tool; and the Wisconsin Hospital Association's PricePoint tool.
The checklist asks hospital managers questions such as whether their organizations have enlisted secret shoppers to determine how well their price information is disseminated; whether they have staff specifically trained to discuss price information with patients and their families; and whether the facility offers average prices per procedure and provides financial assistance.
The toolkit is being furnished because "Americans are paying an increasingly greater proportion of their healthcare costs out of pocket," according to the AHA. "This means that consumer demand for meaningful and transparent price information will only continue to grow. To meet this demand, hospitals and health systems must take a critical look at where they currently fall on the price transparency spectrum and take steps to improve how they communicate pricing information with patients and their community."
Price transparency has begun in fits and starts in the United States in recent years, with Indiana among the states to recently launch a hospital price transparency initiative. However, most consumers remain in the dark as to how much their healthcare services will cost them.
The AHA has acknowledged in the past that price transparency initiatives have been uneven at best. It noted in a 2014 whitepaper that "public and private resources provide varying levels of detail on price and quality information. They also have varying levels of utility in supporting consumer decision-making."