SUMMARY: There’s a new kid in town. InquireHealthcare is a new project designed to encourage consumer-patients to think differently about health care purchases. Here’s a five-question e-mail interview with the project’s chief, Francois de Brantes.

 

 


Francois de Brantes is the executive director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3), an organization dedicated to developing programs and resources to help payers and providers improve the quality and affordability of health care through innovative incentive design. The institute also has learning networks to help spread  innovative designs and programs, and to encourage knowledge and adoption of value-based payment. The institute’s two main programs include Bridges to Excellence® (BTE), a family of programs to reward recognized physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who meet certain performance measures, and Prometheus Payment®, a compensation approach based on medical episodes of care that provides a blueprint for payment reform. In 2014, the institute decided to broaden its efforts from payers and providers to the consumer-patient by introducing InquireHealthcare.org. We caught up with de Brantes recently for a five-question e-mail interview.

1.    Tell us about InquireHealthcare.

InquireHealthcare has two goals. First, it aims to help consumer-patients make informed decisions about their care by providing them with resources, such as a clinician search and a patient engagement assessment. Secondly, it is a call to action and guide for those who feel that the current state of our healthcare system just isn’t working and that change needs to happen. To support those who want to get involved, we’ve created an Inquire Ambassador program that gives them the tools needed to start a grassroots movement in their local community and facilitate that change.

2.    Who is your target audience?
As a small organization, we know we could never reach all 300 million people who live in the United States. Instead, InquireHealthcare was created to reach activated consumer-patients; those who know there is a problem with the way our current health care system functions and demand change. With the rise in conversation in the media regarding price and quality transparency, we know that more and more consumers are becoming aware that it just isn’t right that they have no idea what medical goods and services costs until after the receive the bill. These people acknowledge the issue and want to see some sort of transformation, but may have no idea where to start. We are here to be that starting point.

3.    The recent New York Times piece about rising costs was another chilling example: Prices keep going up and up. It’s sort of “your money or your life.” What do you think the answer is? Price-fixing, all-on-Medicare, what?
We know there isn’t one solution that will fix everything. It is a combination of various proposed solutions. And getting rid of the opaque system that hides prices and quality ratings has to be the starting point. That’s because, if consumers have that information, they can be a part of the change by making more informed decisions based on choosing affordable and high-quality providers. To date, policy makers and most in the health care industry have looked at consumer-patients as passive takers of physician orders. That’s just not true and we have seen how the collective force of consumers has revolutionized other industries. We believe that consumers will revolutionize health care if we give them the tools to do so. That’s our goal with InquireHealthcare.

4.    What are three current trends you’ve noticed in health-care pricing, or in paying for health care? More and more we are seeing private companies and organizations trying to tackle price transparency by working to unveil the prices of various medical goods and services for consumer-patients, such as what ClearHealthCosts is doing.

As mentioned before, there has been an increase in conversations in the media brought on by consumer-patients’ interest about high health care costs and making this information public. This conversation is an indication of people questioning the status quo and that is good news for health care cost reform.

In addition to making cost information available, there is also a call to make it easily accessible and usable. Part of this discussion includes whether physicians should know the costs of the services they perform if a patient asks. We are seeing signs of this being implemented. In Massachusetts, as of Jan. 1, it is required that providers tell patients the costs of medical goods and services, if they inquire about it. Whether this works efficiently in Massachusetts will determine if other states move forward with similar legislation.

5.    Anything else we need to know?
Right now we are working to recruit Inquire Ambassadors and reach out to those who want to be active change agents. Anyone interested in joining the program should refer to the “Join The Fight” section of our site. Change can happen, but it starts in your community.

Francois de Brantes, Executive Director (@fdebrantes)
Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3) (@HCI3_org)
InquireHealthcare (@INQUIREhc)

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...