As the cost of certain medical tests and procedures becomes more transparent, the theory goes, physicians and patients can make more informed and cost-effective decisions.
But how do cost-based decisions influence quality of care?
According to experts, the best way to ensure the information is used appropriately is for physicians and patients to engage in discussions, case by case, about how costs should be factored into the overall decision-making process, according to an American Medical News article.
Patients often assume that higher-cost means higher-quality care. As a result, patients who are under financial strain may opt to skip care altogether rather than shop for a lower price, amnews noted.
"This speaks to the importance of educating on both the doctor and the patient side," Neel Shah, M.D., a clinical fellow of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told the publication.
"There's been this movement to empower patients with this sort of information for 20 years, and there's been no similar movement to empower our physicians with this information. And at the end of the day, what you want is conversation between the doctor and the patient."
A recent poll in Massachusetts suggested that patients are eager for this type of collaboration, with 81 percent agreeing with the statement, "I would feel comfortable discussing the cost of my medical care with my doctor," CommonHealth reported.