True Transparency Improves Patient Care

posted by Pivotal Health Solutions on Friday, July 3, 2015

It's simple: When health care organizations put their performance data out there for public view, patient care just gets better. 

But true transparency isn't about trying to make yourself simply look better in the eyes of your patients. The goal should be to engage patients and caregivers in order to improve actual performance. In other words, it's not about marketing, it's about strategy. 

If health care organizations can commit to this view, it will be a game changer. Quality and patient outcome data, along with patient comments, can all contribute to improving the health care experience for everyone.

Yes, it's hard work. It requires reaching out to as many patients as possible and analyzing data with the right tools. And yes, honesty can also be difficult. But the hard work is worth it to help drive improvement.

Health care organizations need to re-think their concept of strategy to thrive in a marketplace driven by competition on value – how well they improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. That re-thinking begins with clarifying what the organizations are truly trying to accomplish, and for what “customers,” and how they are going to distinguish themselves from competitors and offer a unique value proposition. Make no mistake – improving value for patients is hard. But as Michael Porter and I write in our recent Perspective article in The New England Journal of Medicine, “Why Strategy Matters Now,” providers are unlikely to succeed if they cannot focus on this goal.

This critical question of organizational goal applies to how providers think about transparency – the growing trend to make their own performance data public. What are they trying to accomplish when, for example, they publicize surgical success rates or patient experience data and comments? Are they focused mostly on marketing (aka “reputation management”), or are they trying to improve their actual performance by engaging patients and caregivers with complete and objective data?

The answer is important, because the transparency movement will be a game changer. For years, most provider organizations were skeptical about whether “quality” could really be measured, and many resisted public reporting of any performance data or tried to focus their data collection on process measures that they could control. (I make these comments with appropriate humility, having at times pushed as a clinician and health care executive for “translucency” more than transparency in the past.)

This article excerpt, by Thomas H. Lee, originally appeared here:


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At Pivotal Health Solutions, our story starts with a table. Not just any table, but one that you helped us design from the ground up. From that single table, PHS has become a leader in offering beautifully designed, quality-manufactured products for the complementary health care field.

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