Study Confirms Accuracy, Ease-of-Use of Personalized Healthcare Cost Estimator
The results of a 10-month study—published online today in JAMA Network Open—indicate that Sutter Health’s new ambulatory cost estimator tool is easy to use and provides very accurate estimates.
“Healthcare cost transparency is understandably important to our patients,” said study co-author Albert Chan, M.D., M.S., FAAFP, Sutter Health vice president and chief of digital patient experience. “Providing digital tools such as our online cost estimator is another example of our continued commitment to empower our patients with responsive, personalized care.”
Sutter Health’s cost-estimator tool uses real-time data to provide patients with personalized estimates for common ambulatory healthcare services, such as office visits, lab tests or X-rays.
A user survey found the majority of respondents were satisfied with their experience using the cost estimator and would recommend it to others. Survey respondents reported that the tool was intuitive, with one respondent noting, “It’s a relief knowing in advance how much you will be spending on healthcare.”
“Consumers want more information about projected health care costs,” said study co-author Dominick L. Frosch, Ph.D., director and senior scientist at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) and co-director of the Center for Health Systems Research (CHSR). “An accurate cost estimator helps them make informed decisions about their own care and treatment.”
According to PAMFRI and CHSR Assistant Scientists and study co-authors Cheryl D. Stults, PhD, and Jiang Li, PhD, while other health care organizations offer cost-estimator tools, Sutter Health’s is the first of its kind.
“The Sutter tool is unique in that it is integrated with our electronic health record,” Dr. Stults said. “This means it can pull information about a patient’s insurance coverage in real time from the payor and provide a snapshot of approximately what the patient can expect to pay for a service.”
Patients access the tool via Sutter Health’s online patient portal, My Health Online. It provides commercially insured, uninsured and managed care patients estimates for more than 200 ambulatory services. The JAMA report concluded that Sutter had successfully integrated the estimator tool and My Health Online to a high degree of patient satisfaction.