The #1 Thing Hospitals Can’t Talk About

Pricing. Outside of the $49 heart and lung scans, hospital networks can rarely be transparent about costs. And they know it. A 2018 Kaufman Hall survey of more than 200 U.S. hospitals and health systems indicated only 10 percent list prices on their website.

Why does this matter? Because transparency is the new normal for consumers. Especially for millennials, who comprise 53.5 million people in the workplace. Consumerism is demanding healthcare systems be more upfront about costs and provide quick, online payment options, while also ensuring billing statements are clear and free of medical jargon.

Consumers can demand this transparency for health and wellness services because they can shop around. More convenient, low-cost solutions, like retail clinics and urgent-care centers, are opening everywhere. Why not pick up a new toothbrush, refill your prescription and get a $20 flu shot at Walgreens or CVS at the same time? None of those tasks required making an appointment, which satisfies the busy, multi-tasking mom (or, as the hospitals call her, the household’s chief medical officer), or the single millennial who does not want to plan ahead.

Consumers’ desire to do their own research and self-diagnose or -prescribe is also growing. A study titled “Midlife in the United States” conducted by the University of Wisconsin found that seven out of ten people in their 50s now say they would feel comfortable challenging a physician’s orders. And with smartphone technology allowing people to monitor their own cholesterol, blood pressure, caloric intake, exercise output and more, consumers will continue to find ways to avoid hospitals and the subsequent, unpredictable bills.

Given these paradigm shifts in the healthcare industry, how do hospitals prescribe themselves a new way of sharing information with increasingly savvy (and frustrated) consumers? Perhaps the tools are out there for hospitals to utilize but knowing the right way to share them with the market, stand apart from the competition and satisfy consumers is overwhelming. If this is the type of change your organization is ready to undertake, we have experience in partnering with healthcare and other industry clients to successfully implement new strategic practices.

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