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Last week, e-Patient Dave deBronkart gave us his ideas on visible pricing in healthcare.  This week, Dan Munro, HealthCare Compass writer for Forbes.com talks to us about value.  Dan is the CEO and Founder of iPatient.com, a healthcare website that facilitates patient/provider dialogue.  Dan has a background in Information Technology and has written more than several articles on the situation of healthcare today, one of which was recently published on our site.  In this video, Dan talks about several websites where patients can find information about value in healthcare and I wanted to give you the links here:

Vitals

ZocDoc

Yelp

And now, watch the video:

To see other videos in this series, please go to this page.  And if you have a story to tell that can reduce healthcare costs and raise quality of care, please comment below or email me at joan@socialmediatoday.com  Thanks!

Video transcript (by transcriptionstar)

Joan:  Hello.  I'm Joan Justice with HealthWorks Collective, and I'm here today with Dan Munro.  Dan is a healthcare writer for Forbes and he's also the CEO and founder of iPatient, a website which is helping to transform the patient provider dialog.  In a recent article, Dan commented that the real challenge ahead isn’t so much about pricing itself as about value that's what remains a real mystery.  Dan I would like you to talk a little bit about value here.

 

Dan:  Sure and thanks for taking the time and visiting today.  Yeah it was an important article in part because there's so much focus today around the idea of transparent pricing and I wanted to get a little bit deeper on that subject relative to healthcare, and how that fits into the value equation because its really challenging to simply work backwards from visible or transparent pricing. 

 

There are solutions that are starting to materialize relative to getting visible pricing and one of this I don’t know if I referenced this one, but there's a surgical center in Oklahoma that actually publishes on the web a price list for almost every sort of minor and some major outpatient surgeries that they provide.  There's a huge disclaimer at the front end of the website that says these are our prices if we have to file insurance on your behalf these prices do not apply.

 

Joan:  Yes of course yeah.

 

Dan:  So it’s a really interesting spin on what I referenced as sort of the leading that where we're headed with pricing.  What we have to be careful of though and that's really the larger issue behind is how we determine as consumers of patients how do we arrive at what's true value for the healthcare spin and right now much of what we wind up sending relative to healthcare is simply really expensive and its continuing to escalating so arriving a value is a lot harder than simply looking at price and I'll give you the example that I like to cite because I haven't found this quite in the while yet, but I know there are cases where a local outpatient lab facility could provide say an MRI and they maybe able to charge $80, $90, a $100 for a simple MRI and if you compare that too for example a hospital and the MRI inside a hospital is let's say $800 there's a huge discrepancy there in price.

 

What we haven’t determined is what the value difference is between those two as they relate very specifically to our own healthcare needs, and that's where pricing is certainly the first step in the equation and it's an important one.  But I argue that it's not the only one and ultimately it's not the one that we need the most.  What we need to get to is quickly as we can is two things.  First of all, we need to get that value equation relative to price and there are instances where the $80 MRI may make a lot of sense and there are other instances where the $800 MRI is at a hospital is perfectly legitimate and appropriate. 

 

So that's the key element of the value equation, but then behind that is also the notion that we need to get an alignment between all of the stakeholders, not just as consumers and patients, but all of the stakeholders aligned around the idea of lowering cost across the board and that is an industry problem that is very complex, difficult to solve and one that will be working on for the next few years ahead.

 

Joan:  Yeah a lot of work to be done Dan.

 

Dan:  A lot of work and that's not to say that it's not doable.  It is to say that I'm not sure that we've reached that tipping point yet where we have all of the stakeholders online around a value equation.  We're starting to see it first and foremost with pricing, but I'm also concerned that there's a tendency to treat patients more and more as consumers, and I'm really concerned about the notion of that because it -- it sets the stage for a very different dialog that puts it in the realm of shopping.  I really -- I'm really cautious about that approach because I don’t think healthcare falls into the same category as other shopping services.

 

And some of that we're already seeing pushback.  I know that Yelp has a service for consumers that helps you provide feedback on healthcare services, and the pushback from that has already been significant on the part of providers who have sued patients for bad reviews under Yelp, and so what that suggest is that maybe that's not the right dialog, maybe that's not the dialog that's the most helpful in the sense of getting to the value equation that we all need because shopping for healthcare services simply alludes to the idea that we don’t like response A whether it’s a pricing variable or maybe it’s a recommendation that we need to engage through our own healthcare benefit.

 

I don’t want to set the stage where we simply say okay I don’t like that response.  I'm going to find a different one because that's not, that's not a part of the value equation that I think we need to try and get to.

 

Joan:  So what advice would you give patients to try to get to the value?

 

Dan:  Yeah so there are some interesting -- there's some interesting sort of next generation solutions that are coming online.  Yelp is one that I've tracked a little bit, and then there's a couple of others one is out of New York called Vitals, and they have a service that's exclusive to healthcare services and getting feedback in a consumer way and then I know the ZocDoc also in New York basically added I think some elements of that capability in the sense of being able to rate and rank doctors based on patient experience, but that's an important element because part of what ZocDoc decide to which is really interesting is the scheduling side and part of what we're looking for in the sense of patients is the new models that treats our time with equal value, and I'm not sure that has happened a lot of healthcare in the past.

 

Joan:  It sure hasn’t.  I've had some discussions with doctors about that. 

 

Dan:  Right and so ZocDoc is an interesting position to help with that because they're already handling the scheduling, and so they're elevating the importance of scheduling to both sides of the equation and that is where you start to see interesting value in a new way for the healthcare equation.

 

Joan:  Very interesting.  Well, thank you so much Dan.  I think it's important to realize that it's not only visible pricing that's important here, but visible and true quality value as well, and thanks for bringing this to our attention.  I really appreciate it. 

 

Dan:  And thanks again for having me today.

 

Joan:  Okay.