Price transparency is increasingly becoming part of ASCs’ efforts to improve the patient experience. Here’s why it’s so important.
Alleviating Patient Stress
It's no secret that the cost of healthcare, and surgery in particular, has risen over the years. Patients coming to surgery centers are stressed about health problems, and high out-of-pocket expenses can add to their anxiety. If you don’t know what something is going to cost, worrying about the possibilities can become overwhelming. It may also cause patients to cancel or delay procedures due to fear of the unknown. Price transparency at your ASC can help alleviate that stress.
Increasing Patient Retention
Retaining customers hinges on keeping them happy. Part of that process is minimizing the financial impact of expensive procedures. Patients who haven’t had to deal with overdue bills, confusing costs, and negotiating fees are more likely to use your ASC when a future need arises.
Ensuring Your ASC Gets Paid
Pricing transparency at your ASC increases the likelihood your facility will get paid. Patients who know what to expect can plan ahead, set aside the funds needed, tap into savings, or set up a payment plan. Unexpected bills may be ignored by patients with sticker shock when overwhelmed by costs that exceed their expectations.
Decreased cash flow and additional time chasing down payments on overdue accounts takes up time and increases overhead for ASCs. When patients know ahead of time what a procedure will cost, they are more likely to pay on time. For patients with high deductibles, they may even opt to pay in cash.
The Competitive Edge
There are many surgery options these days, but ASCs continue to be one of the most cost-effective. Pricing transparency allows patients to comparison shop. For Ambulatory Surgical Centers, this is a good thing. Patients can compare the relative cost of using an ASC to more expensive options and see the financial advantage. They will also perceive your ASC as more forthcoming and focused on their satisfaction if they receive accurate, easy-to-understand pricing with no surprises.
Implementing Price Transparency
Implementing price transparency at your ASC should focus on two things. Clear, easy-to-understand pricing is essential, followed by easy payment options. Here are some ways to implement price transparency at your ASC effectively:
- Do your homework before sharing price estimates with patients. Determine the most likely average cost, not the lowest possible one. You'll have fewer patients who complain later if the actual cost exceeds the estimated one.
- If you’re posting pricing on your ASC website, focus on the most commonly done procedures. There are always specific procedures that you will want to price individually, but patients can get a fair idea of costs by looking at the cost of typical procedures. Include a range of prices for each procedure and include a “not to exceed” feature.
- Include the costs of all aspects of using your ASC. While an anesthesiologist may bill separately, their cost should also be posted, noting that this price is independent of other costs.
- Always include a disclaimer regarding unexpected complications or add-on procedures. Protect your ASC by talking to a legal representative about how best to phrase a disclaimer that protects you.
- Educate your staff regarding pricing. When patients have questions, your team needs to be able to answer them. Knowledge of why things cost what they do and being able to explain why your costs are lower than at a hospital are essential.
- Include information on payment options and assure patients that the ASC will send out financial reminders to help them stay on track. During these uncertain times, many patients have a lot on their minds. Knowing they will receive gentle reminders can put their mind at ease.
- When possible, include payment plan options patients can use to split out costs over time.
Pricing transparency in your ASC benefits both your facility and your patients. You will see more significant ROI, increased patient satisfaction, and an enhanced reputation. Your patients will make better healthcare decisions and go into surgery feeling empowered and informed. It's a win-win for everyone.