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Healthcare Pricing Transparency is Going to Sting

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, June 6, 2014

Castlight says it has helped its corporate customers save as much as 10% a year by using its technology. And though its valuation seems crazy, its stock price has only dropped slightly since March when the shares debuted.

It is far from the only player in this game. There's also Change Healthcare, and Healthsparq, and others, and big insurers are experimenting with these technologies themselves, with an aim toward offering such tools to their customers as a value-add?that is, free.

What that means for the prospects of early-stage pure play companies is uncertain, but some comparative decision-making on healthcare based on cost seems here to stay.

Effects of Price Transparency
Other efforts, such as Medicare's recent data releases about hospital payments for certain services, are making headway in this area as well. Big corporations have signaled they are believers that this type of transparency works.

Lowe's, Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, and other large corporations already ship patients around the country to deliver them for procedures at specific organizations. The initiative is not solely based on price, but it's a big component.

There are ways to prepare, but in many cases, unless you already provide relatively high quality at a competitive price, the preparation may be painful. What hurts hospital leaders is that they don't necessarily know in detail how their offerings stack up against their competitors.

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