In the retail world, price transparency is the norm. Consumers hop on sites like Amazon to shop around, read reviews, find the best deal and “Buy now with 1-Click.” Should shopping for healthcare be that simple, too? As more Americans pay higher out-of-pocket costs for medical services, they’re asking for prices up front more often. Here are a few ways price transparency can benefit patients and your practice, especially if you offer cash-pay services.

Help make care affordable. How do you shop for something on Amazon or any other retailer? You look for quality — and the lowest price. To compete, retailers regularly adjust their prices. Providers that offer cash-pay services like LASIK or cosmetic surgery are often faced with the dilemma of competing on price. Consider this: When your practice lays its cards on the table, you force other providers to do the same and offer comparable pricing. What if you offered an a-la-carte service menu and bundled service packages? You might also explore affordable alternative treatments with patients if alternatives exist. Show patients you’re concerned about their health and their wallets.

Generate leads. Highlight financing options or even a price estimator on your website, and ask the patient for a name, email address and phone number. Lead generators serve as an open door for a more personalized connection with patients. Use these opportunities to educate your new leads about the services you offer as well as the benefits. Ask the patient about their healthcare needs and be ready to share the affordable options that can meet those needs.

Build trust. Avoid sending patients surprise bills. Transparency will help you form an honest, open relationship. Consumers want to know the cost of services in advance, so they can shop around and make the best choice for their budget and their health. If you can’t provide an exact amount, at least give customers a good-faith estimate.

Transparency will give you an edge over your competition. When consumers look for healthcare costs, they’re more likely to schedule with a practice that’s open about its prices. Price transparency is here to stay – be a leader in the movement to serve your patients better.