It's commonplace these days to order merchandise, book hotels and arrange transportation online, and in each case the provider of goods or services tells you what it'll cost right up front. A new website offers a similar transaction for patients seeking to undergo elective surgery.
Launched earlier this month, I Need a Surgery connects both insured and uninsured patients with participating surgery centers nationwide, which agree to provide the patients' surgeries at pre-arranged, all-inclusive prices.
The web service's efforts toward patient education and price transparency also include easy-to-understand explanations of common surgeries, a calculator that allows patients to see how much their procedure has typically cost, and a "No Surprises Guarantee." Once patients schedule their procedures, the price is settled, with no unexpected costs arriving afterward.
I Need a Surgery (INS) is the brainchild of Jeff Blankinship, president and CEO of Surgical Notes, the Dallas-based medical business software and IT services firm. Until now, he says, healthcare consumers, unlike nearly every other consumer, have had little input and little information going into their life-changing purchases. "Patients would go wherever their physicians told them, and only after receiving the surgery would they learn the cost of that care," he says. "Through INS, consumers can finally gain control of their health care."
As ASCs' clinical and operational efficiencies gain attention in a cost-crazed healthcare environment, this kind of transparency is the way to go, Mr. Blankinship argues. "Many consumers are unaware that ambulatory surgery centers offer more affordable, safer and better quality care than other settings, making it imperative that surgery centers become more involved in direct marketing to consumers," he says.
This isn't the first attempt to bring purchasing power to the patient, though. In addition to individual centers' move to transparency, last year saw the introduction of a website through which self-paying patients could choose from physicians and hospitals bidding for their elective surgery business.
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