June 1, 2017

How much does ED care cost? Most doctors, nurses don't know

Daily Briefing

    Less than 50 percent of ED doctors, nurses, and physician assistants who took part in a recent survey knew how much it cost to treat the conditions they treat most often, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

    4 tools to better serve price-sensitive patients

    For the study, researchers asked 441 ED clinicians to estimate how much it cost to treat a hypothetical:

    • 57-year-old man who has trouble breathing;
    • 35-year-old woman with abdominal pain; and
    • 7-year-old boy with throat pain.

    The researchers provided the clinicians with medical histories, physical examination results, lab test results, and details of the treatments provided for each hypothetical patient. The researchers then asked the clinicians to state whether they thought the treatment provided to each patient cost:

    • Less than $2,000;
    • Between $2,001 and $4,000;
    • Between $4,001 and $6,000; or
    • Between $6,001 and $8,000.

    According to the study:

    • 43 percent of the respondents selected the correct price range for treating the 35-year-old woman, which hypothetically cost $4,713;
    • 40 percent of the respondents selected the correct price range for treating the 7-year-old boy, which hypothetically cost $596; and
    • 32 percent of the respondents selected the correct price range for treating the 57-year-old man, which hypothetically cost $2,423.

    Kevin Hoffman, an emergency medicine resident at Lakeland Health and the study's lead author, said the findings show that clinicians "continue to have poor understanding of the costs of routine care in the [ED]." He added, "Medical decisions should never be made based only on the cost associated with them. However, when there is more than one way to effectively treat a patient, the more cost efficient choice should be chosen" (Rapaport, Reuters, 5/30; Rosin, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/30).

    4 tools to better serve price-sensitive patients

    As more and more patients face the prospect of high out-of-pocket care costs, they've become increasingly price-sensitive and willing to shop for services.

    That means that for your organization to thrive in the market, you'll need a strong price sensitivity strategy. Check out our infographic to learn the four tools you need to fix your strategy—and examples of how your peers have fixed theirs.

    Download the Infographic

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