Squeezing in under a state-mandated October 1 deadline for posting hospital pricing data online, the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) has become the latest hospital trade group to provide pricing data on member hospitals. The MHA just launched a new site providing detailed pricing data from specific Minnesota hospitals, offering data for the 50 most common in-patient procedures and 25 most common same-day procedures.
In forcing the issue of price reporting, the state of Minnesota becomes one of many entities responding to widespread demands for better public access to pricing and quality data. Not only have insurance companies, states and hospital associations begun reporting on hospital quality and pricing, the federal government recently got into the act, offering a list of prices hospitals typically charge for 30 popular services as well as what Medicare typically pays for them. In reality, such efforts are more symbolic than practical for now, as consumers still seem quite reluctant to seek out and sort through such data. And the lack of national standards for what hospital pricing and quality data gets reported doesn't help matters. But data dissemination efforts like the MHA's are sure to become the industry standard before long, whether states require such disclosure or not, so it's worth keeping track of how these initial roll-outs work out. Let's see if hospital trade groups or government agencies can point to specific instances in which consumers made the data work for them, and then you'll convince me this trend is really finding its legs.
Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark, Ohio to has been voluntarily reporting quality data on twelve areas since 2000. Report