Patient Care

Displaying Prices to Providers May Reduce Overall Ordering Costs


Clinical question: Does price display impact order costs and volume as well as patient safety outcomes, and is it acceptable to providers?

Background: Up to one-third of national healthcare expenditures are wasteful, with physicians playing a central role in overall cost, purchasing almost all tests and therapies for patients. Increasing the transparency of costs for physicians is one strategy to reduce unnecessary spending.

Study design: Systematic review.

Setting: Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

Synopsis: Nineteen publications were selected for final analysis. Thirteen studies reported the impact of price display on costs, nine of which showed a statistically significant decrease in order costs. Only three of eight studies reporting the impact of price display on order volume showed statistically significant decreases in order volume. One study showed adverse safety findings in the form of higher rates of unscheduled follow-up care in a pediatric ED. Physicians were overall satisfied with price display in the five studies reporting this.

There was high heterogeneity among studies, which did not allow for pooling of data. Furthermore, more than half of the studies were conducted more than 15 years ago, limiting their generalizability to the modern era of electronic health records (EHRs).

Overall, this review supports the conclusion that price display has a modest effect on order costs. Additional studies utilizing EHR systems are required to more definitively confirm these findings.

Bottom line: Displaying prices to physicians can have a modest effect on overall order costs.

Citation: Silvestri MT, Bongiovanni TR, Glover JG, Gross CP. Impact of price display on provider ordering: a systematic review. J Hosp Med. 2016;11(1):65-76. doi:10.1002/jhm.2500.

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