OH officials view online price postings as success

Brian Hamby, director of Owensboro Health Marketing and Public Relations.

Since Owensboro Health posted its prices for services and procedures online -- a federal transparency requirement as of Jan. 1 -- those health system web pages have received about 3,200 views as of June 13, including hits from Michigan, California, Tennessee and Illinois.

That number of hits since January places OH's price lists in the top 3% of page views on the health system's website, said Brian Hamby, OH director of marketing and public relations.

"I would consider the pricing page to be strong, and I am pleased with the traffic," Hamby said.

According to the Trump administration, the new requirement will enhance price transparency, spur competition and promote better value in the health care industry.

Some health care officials doubted whether price had much to do with the selection of a hospital. They felt other considerations, such as insurer network, physician recommendations, location, and the experience of family and friends, weighed more heavily on the decision-making process.

Also, they cautioned that online price lists could prove difficult to use properly because some procedures could have multiple charges. Potential patients have no way of knowing that.

And the American Hospital Association feared some people would delay or cancel care after reviewing costs online.

Besides providing the required price lists on its website, OH used the opportunity to show regional consumers how the health system stacks up against competitors. OH used a third-party firm to analyze the price of its most-common procedures and services and compare them to Baptist Health Madisonville, Deaconess Midtown Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Ohio County Hospital and Saint Vincent Evansville.

"One of Owensboro Health's biggest priorities is improving access to care, and we saw that this page was a way we could make health care more accessible," Hamby said. "That's why we made the pricing pages easier to read and by adding context on how our prices compare to other facilities in our market."

According to OH's website analytics, Owensboro residents make up about 36% of the page's visitors.

On average, page views last about 1 minute and 25 seconds, Hamby said. A very low percentage of people come to the page and leave it without reviewing the page.

"... So people are coming to that page, and they're using it to get information," he said.

About 95% of views look at OHRH-specific information. OH Muhlenberg Community Hospital gets the remaining 5%.

When it comes to prices at the OH Healthplexes in Powderly, Madisonville and Henderson, the Madisonville clinic generates the largest amount of traffic at 40%. Henderson views make up 33% of the Healthplex traffic, and Powderly gets 27%.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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