Do Informed Physicians Make Better Referrals?
Health care providers’ prices vary substantially within geographies and there is little evidence that higher priced providers deliver higher quality care. With more than 43% of total health care spending estimated to be ‘shoppable’, the savings from improving how patients navigate the health system could be substantial. Indeed, using claims data from a large commercial insurer, the researchers have identified that, if every patient who received an MRI in 2014 at a provider with prices above the 25th percentile had gone to a provider at the 25th percentile price, it would have resulted in a 41% decrease in MRI spending. The researchers will use a clustered RCT to test the effect of providing referring physicians – patients’ agents – with pricing information on where they send their patients for care and financial incentives to steer their patients towards more efficient providers. This project will test whether equipping providers with information on the price of their referrals during the care process leads to reductions in the price of imaging services received by their patients.