Study: Less than half of hospitals, health systems are pursuing customer-friendly billing statements

While hospitals and health systems are focusing more on patient-focused initiatives, they have room for improvement in various key areas related to consumerism, particularly pricing strategy and price transparency, according to a new report by Kaufman Hall.

The report includes results from a 2018 survey of more than 200 U.S. hospitals and health systems.

The survey found more than 50 percent of respondents reported patients at their organizations have wide access to urgent care centers. Forty percent of respondents said the same for freestanding imaging sites, 27 percent said the same for retail clinics, 14 percent said the same for video visits, and 17 percent said the same for e-visits.

As far as pricing strategy, 62 percent of respondents said they set pricing of services based on benchmark negotiated rates to the market, while 51 percent use financial analysis to determine price/volume trade-off effects on revenue and margin. Only 36 percent use cost-to-serve analysis.

The study found price transparency efforts are also in need of improvement at various organizations. Only 47 percent of organizations respond to consumers' requests for price quotes within a defined time period, and only 10 percent list prices on their website.

Additionally, the study found consumerism experience efforts are a work in progress. For instance, only 28 percent of organizations have fully implemented customer-friendly billing statements, and only 20 percent are piloting such statements.

Overall, based on the survey results, only 8 percent of respondents are rated Tier 1 performers on Kaufman Hall's Healthcare Consumerism Index for putting significant resources to pursuing consumer-centric strategies. Twenty-three percent are rated Tier 2 performers, meaning the organization's strategy includes piloting consumer-centric initiatives and efforts to identify consumer needs. Fifty-two percent of respondents are rated Tier 3 performers, and 17 percent are rated Tier 4 with respect to consumerism efforts.

Compared with 2017, many organizations have moved from Tier 4 up to Tier 3. Still, the percentages in the top two tiers are relatively flat, according to Kaufman Hall.

"Healthcare providers have been slow to adapt because they've never had to be consumer-focused in the past," said Dan Clarin, senior vice president of Kaufman Hall. "This shift requires a new mindset and new way of thinking that go beyond traditional approaches."


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