Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 434–448

A Randomized Trial of Displaying Paid Price Information on Imaging Study and Procedure Ordering Rates

  • Alyna T. Chien
  • Lisa Soleymani Lehmann
  • Laura A. Hatfield
  • Kate E. Koplan
  • Carter R. Petty
  • Anna D. Sinaiko
  • Meredith B. Rosenthal
  • Thomas D. Sequist
Original Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-016-3917-6

Cite this article as:
Chien, A.T., Lehmann, L.S., Hatfield, L.A. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2017) 32: 434. doi:10.1007/s11606-016-3917-6

Abstract

Background

Prior studies have demonstrated how price transparency lowers the test-ordering rates of trainees in hospitals, and physician-targeted price transparency efforts have been viewed as a promising cost-controlling strategy.

Objective

To examine the effect of displaying paid-price information on test-ordering rates for common imaging studies and procedures within an accountable care organization (ACO).

Design

Block randomized controlled trial for 1 year.

Subjects

A total of 1205 fully licensed clinicians (728 primary care, 477 specialists).

Intervention

Starting January 2014, clinicians in the Control arm received no price display; those in the intervention arms received Single or Paired Internal/External Median Prices in the test-ordering screen of their electronic health record. Internal prices were the amounts paid by insurers for the ACO’s services; external paid prices were the amounts paid by insurers for the same services when delivered by unaffiliated providers.

Main Measures

Ordering rates (orders per 100 face-to-face encounters with adult patients): overall, designated to be completed internally within the ACO, considered “inappropriate” (e.g., MRI for simple headache), and thought to be “appropriate” (e.g., screening colonoscopy).

Key Results

We found no significant difference in overall ordering rates across the Control, Single Median Price, or Paired Internal/External Median Prices study arms. For every 100 encounters, clinicians in the Control arm ordered 15.0 (SD 31.1) tests, those in the Single Median Price arm ordered 15.0 (SD 16.2) tests, and those in the Paired Prices arms ordered 15.7 (SD 20.5) tests (one-way ANOVA p-value 0.88). There was no difference in ordering rates for tests designated to be completed internally or considered to be inappropriate or appropriate.

Conclusions

Displaying paid-price information did not alter how frequently primary care and specialist clinicians ordered imaging studies and procedures within an ACO. Those with a particular interest in removing waste from the health care system may want to consider a variety of contextual factors that can affect physician-targeted price transparency.

KEY WORDS

randomized trials electronic health record health services research 

Abbreviations

ACO

Accountable care organization

EHR

Electronic health record

PEI

Price Education Initiative

CT

Computed tomography

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging

X-ray

X-radiation

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyna T. Chien
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lisa Soleymani Lehmann
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Laura A. Hatfield
    • 6
  • Kate E. Koplan
    • 7
  • Carter R. Petty
    • 8
  • Anna D. Sinaiko
    • 3
  • Meredith B. Rosenthal
    • 3
  • Thomas D. Sequist
    • 4
    • 5
    • 9
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Division of General PediatricsBoston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy and ManagementHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  4. 4.Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary CareBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  5. 5.National Center for Ethics in Health CareVeterans Health AdministrationWashingtonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Health Care PolicyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  7. 7.Kaiser Permanente of GeorgiaAtlantaUSA
  8. 8.Clinical Research CenterBoston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  9. 9.Partners Healthcare SystemBostonUSA