CG: What is the first step for providers that would like to be more transparent with their prices?
Jeff Jones: Clearly define the objectives for providing that transparency. In some cases, it may be strategic to engage consumers. Or it may be in response to market pressures from competitors, the media or government. But understand first why you are doing it and who will be utilizing the information.
Providers don't need to be in a rush to provide complete pricing for everything they offer. Understand what portion of your services are highly utilized, and of those services, determine which are going to be some of the most straightforward to publish. Focus on the 15 to 20 percent of your service types that account for 60 to 70 percent of your volume.
CG: What can the healthcare industry learn from others regarding price transparency?
JJ: Think about the airlines, automobile manufacturers, wireless companies, and fine dining restaurants. All of those entities have multiple elements that go into a final price. They have different methodologies, but in many cases, there's a base price and add-ons.
I think that is true in healthcare as well. In some cases, there will be variability. Flight prices, for example, depend on how far you're going and where you want to go — even where you want to sit in the cabin.
It would be worth doing at least some basic consumer research, like we do in most other industries, to understand what consumers' expectations are and their current knowledge level, so that as you're putting your pricing together, you're doing it in a way that has the right level of information but also the right level of education.