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It’s hardly a secret that Americans love to shop around for deals on products and services. The growing popularity of sites like Home Advisor and Angie’s List for home improvement, and Upwork and Freelancer for professional services, is indicative of this need to find the best price.
Consumers also research the best prices for the healthcare industry when provided with easy access to tools designed to help them. An annual global healthcare consumer survey from Deloitte found that 49 percent of American consumers would use an online tool that allowed them to compare pricing among healthcare providers. A Google search for healthcare comparison tools for consumers indicates there is no shortage of third-party sites willing to help.
Until now, there were challenges associated with price comparisons for healthcare services, including the complexities of high-deductible healthcare plans. There are several reasons Americans now are more interested in finding healthcare at the best prices.
- Forty-seven percent of adults said they would change how they access care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They plan to be more selective in the kinds of procedures they have and where they receive care.
- There is a surge in demand for elective and non-emergent procedures following pandemic restrictions on these services. Shopping around can help identify facilities currently performing these procedures and the wait time and fees associated with them.
- The ability to compare what different facilities charge for the same procedure makes using technology designed to help consumers narrow down their choices a desirable option.
Shopping for Imaging Procedures
One of the services for which healthcare consumers frequently comparison shop is imaging and diagnostics. With 10,682 diagnostic imaging centers currently operating in the U.S., there is plenty of choices. According to one technology firm in New Jersey, it was able to reduce imaging spending by millions in 2019 through its electronic smart shopping service. Consumers were able to use the service to evaluate prices for non-emergent radiology services and elective surgeries among providers and choose the option that worked best for them.
Patient Requirements and How to Meet Them
Patients are on the lookout for competitive pricing, quality, and convenience as part of their comparison shopping. While many are looking for bargain-basement deals on imaging and diagnostic services, they are willing to pay more to guarantee quality and convenience.
Imaging service providers need to position themselves to take advantage of this growing trend of shopping around by ensuring they are catering to consumer needs. There are several ways to remain competitive.
- Engage in price transparency. Tools allowing consumers — and providers — to compare the fair price for imaging services and other procedures can help determine if your facility is pricing itself right out of the market.
- Secure your reputation. As mentioned, price is not the only factor consumers consider when shopping around for radiology and imaging services. The quality of services and competency of staff members also are crucial to staying competitive. Online tools designed to aggregate prices, reviews, and ratings can help.