Thursday, February 23, 2012

Service Catalog

This post kind of corresponds to a friend's blog post here but is also from things I've encountered over the past few years of parenting and medical bills.

Would medical providers please get their act together and give us a service catalog? Bob's post in the link above discusses the account management and billing on the back end of the service. I want something on the front end while services and treatments are being discussed and decided.

Here's what I want: A service menu with retail costs along with service description and how the service will be provided.

Nothing too complicated. The problem I have with the current procedure is that those of us with high deductible insurance plans (who can afford anything else these days?) have to manage our own costs to some extent. People without insurance have an even larger degree!

Not long ago my wife went to the doctor for an ailment. The doctor initially wanted to run a battery of tests after giving her a possible diagnosis. In the end, only a small subset of the tests requested were actually done and we promptly got a bill just under $1000. What would the cost have been if more tests had been performed? Because there is no service catalog we have no idea.

As a diagnostician myself I fully appreciate the necessity of tests to narrow the problem down to a few likely suspects. I don't suspect the doctors of running unnecessary tests. When the stakes are high you want to be sure of your diagnosis to protect your customer and yourself.

The real issue is that I cannot be a partner or good consumer in the medical process without knowing cost, test function, or test method.

I suspect that if my wife had known what all the tests were, what they tested for and how much they cost she could've talked with her doctor about what the best process for testing would've been. In the end we would've known upfront what to expect when we were billed.

We in the technology field have to provide this sort of information to our organizations. If we try to obfuscate the cost and anticipated results of projects we get called out quickly and the business units that depend on us get pretty frustrated that they are not equal partners in the process. I don't see how we can continue to let medical providers get away with treating us this way.