National Academy of Medicine

Creating High-Value Health Care Consumers: Toward Increased Transparency and Value

By Joseph Fifer
April 19, 2013 | Commentary

More than ever, health care providers need to help purchasers make intelligent, value-based decisions. Providers are being asked to reduce the total cost of care, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and move quickly on innovations that add value. But without transparent cost and quality data that enable purchasers to identify high-value providers, a key incentive for creating a higher-value health care system is absent.

As it stands, even proactive consumers who take it upon themselves to seek cost and quality information are often frustrated. As we’ve seen in recent examples in the media, consumers who contact providers seeking information on the costs of specific procedures frequently cannot find answers, or find that price estimates given by different providers can vary by as much as a factor of 10.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.