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Courier Journal Highlights CQC’s Research

Louisville's Courier Journal recently highlighted Consumers For Quality Care's research.

“Technology and mobile devices now allow customers to quickly choose a place to eat or take a trip.

Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor give them a snapshot of what they'd pay for a meal and how others rate the beds and the decor at a hotel. But when it comes to hospitals, argues Louisville businessman Steve Makela, customers are in the dark finding unbiased views of what a place does well and what they'll pay for the services they get — until the bills hit the mailbox.

What industry but health care does this? That's the question driving Makela's launch this month of JoePatient.com, a website that attempts to demystify the complexities of hospital pricing, expertise and quality ratings on an array of procedures, using data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"The (health care) industry is putting more and more burden on the consumer" to navigate costs, insurance coverage, co-pays and deductibles, but they're not being given the tools to advocate for themselves, said Makela, a former director of strategy at Humana and now publisher of the local food magazine Edible. …

The nonprofit Consumers for Quality Care released a survey this month highlighting consumers' deep frustrations with their health care, in particular unexpected bills, steep insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy and policy group noted that hospital care is the largest single component of national health care spending in the United States. Surprise bills, billing errors, and big swings in average prices for the same medical tests and procedures are reasons advocates are pressing for more clarity and transparency.

People can get pretty solid information on medical procedures and illness from WebMD. Leapfrog and U.S. News and World Report rate hospitals on safety measures and other data points, Makela said, but when you search for what a hospital is good at and who best handles cardiovascular procedures or hip replacements in a region, you end up getting "a lot of marketing materials. It's a lot of piecemeal stuff."…

If JoePatient can help people understand bills, get a grip on how in-network and out-of-network costs affect them, and what value-based care means to their costs, it will be helpful, said Jason Resendez, a board member on Consumers for Quality Care, because "it's such a big can of worms."

Resendez added: "We're seeing more services pop up like JoePatient and Antidote (for clinical trials) because of the need for transparency."

Read the full article here.


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