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Posted on 01.13.2014

Transparency Making Headway in Healthcare

Poor communication can hinder collaboration and success in business and in relationships. I recently read an article about how Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman turned around their company by implementing more effective communication strategies. She contends that, for a company to be successful, everyone from stakeholders to employees to customers must have a clear line of sight, thus a more transparent view, into the company's strategy and performance, whether it is good or bad. She suggests that if you acknowledge your problems and issues in addition to your successes, people are more likely to build trust in your brand.

Most industries, especially retail, have caught on to the idea of transparent communication, whether that's via social media or price transparency. One industry, however, is lagging behind this trend - the healthcare industry. It is considered a complex and misunderstood industry, and some healthcare practitioners still have difficulty in their efforts to be more transparent with their patients.

Modern Healthcare recently published an article encouraging healthcare consumers to demand price transparency. They equated it to being as simple as receiving a receipt for the services performed. They referenced that we, as customers, can go into a Dunkin Donuts and see all the prices laid out; if you don't receive a receipt, your order is free. Now, the healthcare industry has a lot more moving parts than your decision about what to eat for breakfast, but, according to Modern Healthcare, this year employers and their workers will pay close to $900 billion for insurance coverage, making it reasonable for consumers to expect some upfront accountability.

According to Forbes, Dan Munro, pricing transparency is the healthcare story of the year.

In May, the Washington Post announced that the federal government would release the prices hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. When The Post reviewed what some hospitals charge, there were vast differences in price. According to the article, "Experts attribute the disparities to a health system that can set prices with impunity because consumers rarely see them - and rarely shop for discounts." If I had to guess, I would say that 2014 will be filled with consumers demanding more information like the government's reports to see what they are really paying for, causing hospitals to do more research on their end for the "best prices."

Transparency in other industries has become so natural and expected; I think it will only be a matter of time before consumers demand more transparency in healthcare. They want to know what they are paying and for what services...in advance.

What do you think about transparency? Will the healthcare community be able to provide it? Where do you see this heading?

 

Katelyn Fish is an Account Executive at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Katelyn’s blogs here. Connect with Katelyn at Katelyn@lovell.com, or @katelynfish.

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