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Jeff Blankinship Founds I Need a Surgery Price Transparency Platform: 5 Things to Know

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The market for healthcare price transparency is poised to grow 55 percent by 2016, according to a Healthcare Finance News report. The market is valued at $540 million and expected to reach $3.09 billion in just two years.

Here are five things to know about the newly launched direct-to-consumer surgical solution and educational platform I Need a Surgery, which brings price transparency to the field of surgery.

1. Jeff Blankinship, the president of Surgical Notes and Surgery Center Network, founded INS. "Up until now, healthcare consumers had little to no control over where they underwent surgery and how much they paid for that care. Patients would go wherever their physicians told them, and only after receiving surgery would they learn the cost of that care. Through INS, consumers finally gain control of their healthcare," said Mr. Blankinship, according to the report. Mr. Blankinship will present on consumerism and price transparency during the 12th Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine conference.

2. INS is designed to connect insured and uninsured patients with high-quality ambulatory surgery centers. The selected ASCs offer patients procedures at a pre-determined, all-inclusive price. INS has a "no surprises guarantee." Once a patient schedules a procedure the price is locked in and patients receive no unexpected bills. Though demand for price transparency is growing, as of March 90 percent of states received a failing grade from Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. No “A”s were awarded, and only Maine and Massachusetts earned “B”s.

3. Though states may be struggling to meet price transparency expectations, efforts are being made to move forward. For example, the Oklahoma Health Care Cost Reduction and Transparency Act of 2014 (HB 2400) passed to the House floor in February. The bill would require ASCs and hospitals to disclose the prices of the 100 most common diagnostic services, 100 most common surgical procedures and 50 most common imaging procedures. The information would be posted to the Oklahoma Department of Health website.

4. INS was officially launched when its website went live in early May. The website offers education on common outpatient procedures and a "surgery calculator," which allows patients to determine the savings they can realize through INS. Price transparency is often associated with an online presence. The Surgery Center of Oklahoma has been hailed as a pioneer in the field; procedure prices have been posted on its website for years. Other surgery centers, such as MEDARVA Stony Point Surgery Center, have recently answered the demand for price transparency and posted prices online.

5. INS is an off-shoot of Surgery Center Network, which also focuses on price transparency and consumerism in healthcare. SCN connects surgery centers to insurance plans and group health and workers' compensation employees. "Many consumers are unaware that ambulatory surgery centers offer more affordable, safer and better quality care than other settings, making it imperative that surgery centers become more involved in direct marketing to consumers. By working with INS and SCN, surgery centers can gain the incremental patient volume they need," said Mr. Blankinship, in the report.

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