Price Transparency in Neurosurgery: Challenges and Opportunities in the Online Publishing of Treatment Prices to Enable Cost-Conscious and Value-Based Practice

Shaarada Srivatsa, Hammad A. Khan, Edward C. Benzel, Deborah L. Benzil, Thomas E. Mroz, Michael P. Steinmetz, Sebastian Salas-Vega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: There is a paucity of evidence describing the price information that is publicly available to patients wishing to undergo neurosurgical procedures. We sought to investigate the public availability and usefulness of price estimates for non-emergent, elective neurosurgical interventions. Methods: Google was used to search for price information related to 15 procedures in 8 major U.S. health care markets. We recorded price information that was published for each procedure and took note of whether itemized prices, potential discounts, and cross-provider price comparisons were available. Results: Online searches yielded 2356 websites, of which 228 (9.7%) offered geographically relevant price information for neurosurgical procedures. Although accounting for only 16.4% of total search results, price transparency websites provided most treatment price estimates (74.1% of all estimates), followed by clinical sites (19.3%), and other related sites (5.3%). The number of websites providing price information varied significantly by city and procedure. websites rarely divulged data sources, specified how prices were estimated, indicated how frequently price estimates were updated, offered itemized breakdowns of prices, or indicated whether price estimates encompassed the full spectrum of possible health care charges. Conclusions: Under 10% of websites queried yield geographically relevant price information for non-emergent neurosurgical imaging and operative procedures. Even when this information is publicly available, its usefulness to patients may be limited by various factors, including obscure data sources and methods, as well as sparse information on discounts and bundled price estimates. Inconsistent availability and clarity of price information likely impede patients' ability to discern expected costs of treatment and engage in cost-conscious, value-based neurosurgical decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e511-e516
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Volume162
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Access to information
  • Elective surgical procedures
  • Health care costs
  • Neurosurgery

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