CONSUMERS/HEALTH PLANS/HOSPITALS/TECH: Consumer comparison tools, not exactly wowing the world as yet

There’s a new report from CHCF, written by Katy Hendrickson at Forrester, it’s called  (pdf) Health Care Cost Comparison Tools: A market under construction. I’ve read it and it does suggest that something is slowly happening in the Submio/Health Grades world, but that it’s mostly about a few plans trying to steer consumers around based on quality….we are a long, long way from price transparency. Stll def worth a read if you’re all interested in consumerism, transparency or health care cost and quality. And apparently some of you are

There’s also a companion report out called Consumers in Health Care: Creating Decision-Support Tools That Work . I haven’t read that one yet. Comments please from anyone who does.


2 replies »

  1. I recently heard about the “Consumer-Purchaser Disclosure Project”,which has partnered with CMS and supports public transparency by physicans and hospitals by Jan 1, 2007. The group is sponsored by major employers and the Robert Woods foundation, and has received support the White House, and the House and Senate.
    Besides the information posted on their website, http://www.healthcaredisclosure.org, does anyone have any additional information? Apparently this group likes to fly under the radar.

  2. I think that the cost data providing by sites such as HealthGrades, WebMD, and other similar services is quite deceiving. As the report notes, the cost tools developed by these companies are not primarily built for displaying cost data. In fact, the data does not reflect the cost for the episode of care, but only the “facility-related costs.”
    Estimating cost-of-care is complicated and finding a way to tie in all the relevant CPT codes for each episode isn’t a easy task. However, treatment cost estimators are trying to do just that. And while a majority of that data resides within tools provided by health plans themselves, the estimators provide consumers with the best possible true estimate of their cost-of-care.
    As far as the second report, it’s a very good, relatively high-level document that looks at the qualities of a good consumer decision-making tool, promoting effective use, and current barriers to effective use.
    The report doesn’t particularly reveal anything new, but restates what we do know in an eloquent, easily digestable fashion.
    I think the take-home from both reports is that this is an area clearly still in its infancy, but with a fairly strong sense of direction for growth and expansion.