MN first state to offer hospital prices on-line

A new web site from the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) will enable consumers in the state to access price information on common procedures performed by hospitals in their communities.

Minnesota Hospital Price Check (www.mnhospitalpricecheck.org), which marks the first effort to share state hospital price information publicly, will offer data on the 50 most common inpatient stays (DRGs) and the 25 most common same-day procedures (CPTs).

A 2005 state law supported by the state's hospitals called for the release of data via a public web site by Oct. 1.

Prices listed on the site do not include charges by hospital physicians or specialists, who often bill hospital patients separately. MHA cautioned that the listed prices will frequently be different from a patient's out-of-pocket expenses, and urged patients to contact their insurance companies or their hospital's billing offices for an estimate of what they will pay.


24 states pass bills on HIE initiatives

Twenty-four U.S. states passed bills this year or last that called for using health information technology to improve health and health care, and 10 governors passed similar executive orders, according to a recent survey by the eHealth Initiative.

Among 165 health information exchange (HIE) initiatives identified by the 2006 survey of state, regional, and local initiatives, 45 were in the implementation stage, while 26 were fully operational.

Factors driving those efforts included "improving quality" (92%), "improving safety" (82%), "inefficiencies experienced by providers who need information to support patient care" (70%), and "rising health care costs" (56%).

More than eight in 10 initiatives enabled access to data by physician practices. While the primary source of funding for HIE continues to be the federal government, a growing number of initiatives are deriving funds for ongoing operations from users of their services, including hospitals (24%), payers (21%), physician practices (16%), and laboratories (13%).