Healthcare Price Transparency Price Transparency Regulations & Compliance, Policies, Programs, & Tools, Data Standards & Operational Considerations

Healthcare Price Transparency – Leaders Share Insight – Part 1

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Healthcare price transparency has a lot of attention and focus right now, especially in the mandate-driven space. But addressing price transparency via compliance with regulations is just a portion of what health plans and healthcare provider organizations should be focusing on to help make healthcare better and more cost-effective for their members and patients.

In our first Focus Area Roundtable on Costs & Transparency held April 5, 2021, a group of HCEG members working for health plans, healthcare providers, and healthcare-related technology/service organizations gathered to discuss some of the challenges, issues, and opportunities associated with addressing price transparency.

Challenges, Issues, & Opportunities Beyond Price Transparency Regulations

Andy Hoffman and Matt Parker, two thought leaders with our Focus Area Partner HealthSparq, shared a timeline overview of the Transparency in Coverage Mandate and the No Surprises Act and facilitated the following questions:

  • How are you thinking about price transparency within a rather heavily regulated space?
  • What do you see as key issues and risks in the price transparency space? What’s the role of the 80/20 rule?Healthcare Price Transparency Regulations & Compliance, Policies, Programs, & Tools, Data Standards & Operational Considerations
  • How can we really focus on what health plan members and provider patients need to make good health care decisions, knowing that members and patients often have to navigate in antagonistic payer-provider environments?
  • How can we balance supporting patient needs and operate as an ongoing business while also informing people what things are going to cost before they have to spend unlimited amounts of money?
  • What unique challenges or strategies are you thinking about with respect to price transparency? And what opportunities are you looking to take advantage of regarding price transparency?

This post shares insight and information shared by roundtable participants on the above questions pertaining to the following categories:

  1. Regulations and compliance including their importance and value to various stakeholders
  2. Price transparency policies, programs, and tools
  3. Data standards and operational considerations to advance price transparency

A second post highlighting participant responses pertaining to the following categories will be shared shortly:

  1. Increasing adoption and the importance of end-user education and support
  2. Payer-provider relationships to support access to price transparency information
  3. Advancing healthcare price transparency and next steps

RELATED: Healthcare Leaders Focus on Healthcare Policy & ACA

Thoughts on Price Transparency Regulations & Compliance

As a payer and provider, I can look at other hospitals across the state and they’re not even using our latest pricing. They’re just putting something out there to meet the requirement. So, if there’s not consistency in the data, it doesn’t actually help anybody. It just creates profound confusion. (Health Plan/Provider)

Some of the things that I hear my peers talk about is: Are we just solving certain regulatory requirements or are we solving something members think they want but won’t actually be able to use in an effective way?  Or are we on a road to something that will be of value to all the parties involved? (Health Plan)

So, what are the different things people are putting out there? How do we then know this is the best? This is what we should be doing versus this is what we are doing. Because I think everybody is just trying to meet the intent of the law or the letter of the law, but a lot of people don’t know how. And so, I think that’s one of the things that we’ve got to [consider] if there’s anything we can do. (Technology/Service Provider)

These are people who are sick and injured and hurt and need health care. And we’ve got to do our part to help them out and we can do that in a way that drives our overall business priorities. This sets the floor. We talk about these mandates being a floor and you build an experience on top of that that supports your member needs and supports your patient’s needs. (Technology/Service Provider)

So, I think it’s a good thing that the conversation has started. But I think that the end product is going to be significantly different from what it is that we’re looking at this point. (Health Plan)

I feel like the price transparency is just a way to get our prices out there – for the most part as individuals [procedures]. Unless it’s very comparative in descriptions, information is really hard to compare apples to apples between hospitals. (Provider)

Healthcare Price Transparency Policies, Programs & Tools

Whenever I used to roll out tools and or guidance, probably two decades ago and in more than one state, you have to understand the nature of what it is that your end goal is. And sort of work backward from that. But just sort of putting some things out there, you end up getting exactly what you put into it. (Health Plan/Provider)

For a lot of these hospitals, putting out their prices shows major vulnerabilities for them when it comes to inappropriate pricing, when it comes to the contracts that they’re having. It does highlight the contracts that they have with their different vendors. (Technology/Service Provider)

I think some plans are in sort of this game of chicken to some extent because the No Surprises Act isn’t finalized yet. (Technology/Service Provider)

And how can we give voice to that as part of the overall conversation with the administration because I think they’re trying but they’re sort of missing the point. So, I think it’s incumbent upon us as an industry to start to respond back on all of those fronts as to how best to rethink how to do that since it started out previously and it’s been through lots of different iterations. But that lack of standards or consistency is just…(Health Plan)

Price Transparency Data Standards & Operational Considerations

From the payer or provider perspective, without somewhat more explicit data structure guidance across the board, it’s [price transparency mandate] not helpful. (Health Plan/Provider)

We need a standardization so that everybody can follow that. (Provider)

I don’t think you can do comparisons. It’s not the latest data. It’s not even the same from hospital to hospital. It’s kind of all over the place. (Health Plan/Provider)

So as an industry, I think whether that’s vendor-specific or provider, payer, or even consumer, I think I’d like to see a conversation around how do we drive to those data standards? (Health Plan/Provider)

I would agree that the majority of people and hospitals are doing that [trying to comply in good faith.] They don’t collect the data internally in ways that’s terribly helpful. So, to publish it [price transparency information] requires an infrastructure that frankly many of them don’t have in a way that makes it useful as say maybe a payer would. (Health Plan/Provider)

Healthcare is local, that’s very much true. So that’ll impact the dynamics and the impact of what price transparency brings to the table. (Thought Leader)

There are operational challenges that we have to address and plan to address to be compliant with the new regulations that the question becomes: How will this look and feel to the consumer because pricing can vary so significantly? (Health Plan)

One of the challenges that we see when we engage with plans is: Who are the folks and entities within the organization that are trying to solve this problem? We’ve got to get fee schedules from your contracting folks, and you need member eligibility and claims verification. You had to pull all these different systems together and that’s been one of the things we’ve seen as a big challenge – especially with bigger payers, these big vast entities that have to solve these problems with groups that really hardly ever talk to each other. (Technology/Service Provider)

Join a Focus Area Roundtable – Connect with Healthcare Peers

Additional Focus Area Roundtables on Costs & Transparency – and other 2021 HCEG Top 10+ focus areas such as Healthcare Policy & ACA, Interoperability, and M & A /Joint Ventures, among others – will take place throughout 2021. If you are interested in participating, reach out to us via email or complete this short form to indicate your interests.

To receive recaps of our Focus Area Roundtables and other information of potential use for leaders of health plans, health systems, and healthcare provider organizations, join our newsletter.

Recapping ‘The 2018 HCEG Top 10 Healthcare Opportunities, Challenges & Issues’ Webinar – Part 1

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Last week we kicked off the first entry in the Health Care Executive Group’s 2018 Webinar Series: The 2018 HCEG Top 10 – Healthcare Opportunities, Challenges & Issues. The new board chair of HCEG, Kim Sinclair, CIO at Boston Medical Center Health Plan, moderated the webinar and was joined by Ferris Taylor, HCEG’s Executive Director and Consultant to Arches Health Plan and David Gallegos, Sr VP of Consulting Services at Change Healthcare,  one of HCEG’s long-time sponsor partners.

This blog post provides an overview of webinar highlights of the discussion between Kim, Ferris and David, their responses to attendee questions and some additional information to be shared in a future blog post. The webinar presentation materials and a recording of webinar can be found here.

Note: Verbatim responses are included in quotations and paraphrased responses are not quoted.

Topic #1: Most Interesting Items on 2018 HCEG Top 10 List

Kim asked David and Ferris which three items on the 2018 HCEG Top Ten list three areas were of most interest?

David:

“Of course, they’re all very interesting to me. It’s been a very much a part of my life for the past few years being involved in Healthcare Executive Group and obviously being part of the industry. But really, I think the top three on the list are the top three for a reason. I look at these as the three pillars of value-based care.”

“Any value-based program needs to ensure that it’s that it’s a win-win-win for the payer, for the provider and for the member, in order for it to be sustainable. So, in order for it to be a win-win-win, you really need these three pillars. You need alignment and financial incentives. You need to have strong payer provider integration, or cooperation really, to create a true partnership between the caregiver and the payer. But you also need to have the provider and the payer partner on fundamentally changing the way care is delivered.”

Ferris:

“I don’t think we should minimize the topic of costs in healthcare and that probably shows up in the Top Ten most significantly around Cost Transparency (Item #4). A lot of that discussion in the recent months has been around Addressing Pharmacy Costs (item #9) but it’s not exclusive to that.”

“But here in the HCEG Top Ten is also cyber security (Item #6) and it’s interesting to me that it – like the clinical data and analytics (Item #1) you mentioned David – cuts across almost all of the issues. If we can’t assure the consumer of some sort of privacy around their data and some security, then we have an issue. Cybersecurity was not on the HCEG Top Ten list for many years going back. Three or four years ago it came up to the top of the list.

My top three would also have to include that bigger bucket of consumerism. It’s on the list as Total Consumer Health (Item #5) and Harnessing Mobile Health Technologies (Item #8). And also, The Engaged Digital Health Consumer (Item #10).

“We are in a major transformation of healthcare from the consumer to the buyer being the employer to the consumer. So, I would add those three Kim to the list that David has pointed out.

Keeping Track of David’s & Ferris’s Top 3 Top 10 Picks?

David Gallego’s Top 3 Picks Ferris Taylor’s Top 3 Picks
#1 – Clinical and Data Analytics #5 – Total Consumer Health
#2 – Population Health Services Organizations #8 – Harnessing Mobile Health Technology
#3 – Value-Based Payments #10 – The Engaged Digital Consumer

Topic #2: Healthcare Consumerism

Kim asked Ferris and David to give their perspective on consumerism and what they’re seeing in the industry absolutely?

David:

“So fundamentally, I think consumerism is about giving people what they want. So, at a high level that means affordable, accessible high-quality care that improves their overall quality of life. That’s simplistic in some ways but I think everyone could agree that’s what people want of health care. You must look at a more granular level as to what consumers want and need as they can vary significantly. And then, so from that perspective, consumerism really needs to be about customization.”

Customized care means the right service and/or right content is delivered at the right time, at the right place and by the right caregiver.

  1. It’s about 24-hour access to care.
  2. It’s about multi-channel access to information and services.
  3. It’s about providing relevant content to current or predicted life events.
  4. It’s about customized care plans to take individual patient specific conditions, genomic, social determinants all into consideration.
  5. It’s about empowering and enabling the consumers so they have the right amount of information to make the right decisions for their health, cost, and quality etc.

Ferris:

“There’s a lot of dimensions of the cost equation, of the price equations that our health care consumers, our members, and our patients just don’t understand. It isn’t consistent with what they experience in the other aspects of their life and I think that takes me to the consumer discussion. And that’s clearly one of my top three.”

“But we are in a major transformation of healthcare from the employer being the buyer to the consumer being the buyer. In December, the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) association had an entire three-day conference on consumer experience and digital health. In a nutshell, it really stuck in my mind that as health plans, providers and technology vendors really need to stop thinking like health plans, providers and technology vendors; and start thinking like consumers. People don’t look at healthcare as the only thing in their lives.”

“It’s our responsibility as healthcare stakeholders to find a way that our healthcare messages and our healthcare initiatives can fit into the life flow of our members and our patients; and that of their families, their work, their community and what we need to weave into our initiatives the day to day things that we know, if consumers did them.”

Analogy About Healthcare Spending by David Gallegos

David shared an interesting, very accurate and rather amusing analogy about healthcare spending. “$16 Worth of Groceries for $10!”

Topics Addressed in Next Post: Cybersecurity & Rising Pharmacy Costs

The above represents just a small portion of what Kim, Ferris and David discussed in the first half of the webinar. For more insight on any particular area of interest, you can watch the webinar recording and/or read the transcript here.

In a following post, highlights from the second half will be shared. These include responses to the following two topics posed by Kim Sinclair to Ferris Taylor and David Gallegos:

How are you seeing cyber security and cyber threats impact healthcare organizations beyond the tactical day-to-day front prevention activities?

What are your thoughts about what we as healthcare leaders can do about rising pharmacy costs?

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