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Study: Hospitals short on transparency

Research at Johns Hopkins suggests that if hospitals would show physicians the price of some diagnostic laboratory tests at the time the tests are ordered, doctors would order substantially fewer of them or search for lower-priced alternatives.

In a study of upfront price transparency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers found that the practice of offering price information decreased overall use of tests by roughly 9 percent.

Currently, hospitals typically keep both patients and providers essentially blind to the cost of medical services, a system that wastefully contributes to the astronomical cost of health care in the United States, the researchers said.