Don’t Be Scared Of Change. Fuel It

posted by Peter Farrow, CEO, Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire; Jeff Bohnson, CEO, Best in Class Care

on April 17, 2018

Health care costs hit a record high in 2017 with a total spend of $3.5 trillion. This figure has increased each year, making health care costs the No. 1 concern for U.S. households. As premiums and out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, patients are starting to challenge the health care system and demand change to combat these staggering figures and their frustration. It’s clear that 2018 is the year to disrupt the industry and make a shift towards a patient-focused, consumer-based market.

Patients have voiced what they want and need from the industry: Lower health care costs, greater price transparency on services, and a better patient experience. To quickly and efficiently drive change, health care organizations need to integrate solutions into their current model that address these concerns.

With patient out-of-pocket costs at an all-time high, they want to know the cost of their service before receiving care so they are not alarmed by their post-service bill. U.S. health care is still one of the only industries that doesn’t always offer price transparency or bundling options on services, but the success of these practices can be seen abroad.

Internationally, price transparency and bundling are industry standards. Patients can compare providers based on cost and quality of care as they do in all other consumer verticals. Since the United States has been slow to adopt bundling, some health insurance providers and self-funded employers are broadening their networks and promoting destination medicine to their members. This trend is gaining popularity. Today, 1.4 million American travel outside the United States for care with projections to rise 25 to 35 percent each year. Health insurance providers that promote destination medicine increase member benefits by offering more provider options and price transparency, while also putting competitive pressure on U.S. providers to make necessary shifts to consumerism.

Another concern we need to address is the patient experience. Patients can find it difficult to make appointments, locate procedure details, and compare providers. As a consumer, this information must be accessible to make informed, best-fit decisions for your needs.

Many software-as-a-service companies have helped fill this void by offering solutions that have created the e-health industry. For example, Best in Class Care is a platform that connects patients and their insurers to a global network of providers that offer price transparency on medical services. After health plans or employers cover procedures in the platform that offer organizational cost savings, patients can use the platform to easily search for a procedure, compare providers, and schedule procedures. Best in Class Care simplifies the patient experience by giving consumers access to necessary health care information.

Author’s note (Peter Farrow): I have utilized Best in Class Care’s platform in booking my own procedure outside the United States. We now offer it to all our commercial members to help enhance the patient experience at my organization.

Consumer demand in health care is changing, and those who don’t change with it will quickly fall behind. By adopting consumer-based principles seen in other markets, we can quickly satisfy and empower our members. As Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, stated at the AHIP National Health Policy Conference, “This is no time to be timid. Today’s health care system is simply not delivering outcomes commensurate with its cost.”

Now is not the time to scare away from change, but instead fuel it.

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