Ascension moves to provide patients greater pricing transparency

Tracy RogersORLANDO, Fla. — Patients want predictive pricing — or the ability to understand with some degree of certainty what it will cost to receive services before they actually do — said two Ascension executives speaking on Sunday, June 5, at the 2016 Catholic Health Assembly.

Tracy Rogers, chief operating officer for Ascension's Wisconsin ministry market which includes 27 hospitals, and Kim Hodgkinson, chief financial officer for Ascension's Jacksonville ministry market which includes three hospitals, spoke about a pilot project in Jacksonville, Fla., started last year to better understand what patients were seeking in price transparency and how to better help consumers choosing where to have a procedure done and how to conveniently schedule it. The women were involved in the pricing transparency project as part of an Ascension program to develop senior leaders.

Ascension developed a "shop, book, pay" online approach, where patients in the pilot could visit a website, read a description of a procedure, see how much it would cost them and schedule a clinical appointment. The site provided information on the cash costs and patients could provide their insurance information to receive an estimate on their out-of-pocket costs.

The speakers said there were 6,782 visits to the website and 59 users scheduled procedures at one of three facilities in the Jacksonville, Fla., area. Ascension also conducted focus groups in Jacksonville and Chicago to better understand the information patients are seeking related to price transparency.

Rogers and Hodgkinson said they are among 16 executives across Ascension working together on a plan related to predictive pricing, with work to develop a proposed model for pricing transparency. There is not yet a timeline for implementation, they said.