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Data Transparency in Healthcare Is Growing in Importance, What Story Does Your Data Tell?


Amazon purchased One Medical two weeks ago for $3.9 billion, and the Disruptionists claimed another philosophical victory in their march to remake healthcare. But was it a victory for patients seeking primary care? Will the purchase simultaneously make healthcare more affordable and highly reliable for patients and more efficient and profitable for providers? How will it impact the primary care physicians who are already among the hardest working people in healthcare? Will it be better for them as they face stagnating salaries and rising workload demands? The real-world answer to these questions will play themselves out in due time.


There’s another movement that may have even more impact. Mergers and acquisitions among traditional and non-traditional players and endless re-imaginings of business models are not likely to match the disruptive impacts of increasing demands for data transparency. What started as regulatory demands for pricing transparency among hospitals and insurance providers is quickly leading to more demands among all stakeholders for more data transparency.


Patients, regulators, and payors are all demanding more transparency, not only in pricing, but also in safety and quality data. Patients, community leaders and investors are also, like it or not, demanding more data transparency about healthcare’s impact on the environment, its efforts to ensure equity among patient populations and its ability to create governance structures that ensure more than just a fiduciary responsibility to investors and shareholders. This applies equally to nonprofit and for-profit health systems alike.


Transparency, in all aspects of healthcare, and the tools necessary to make sense of so much data, is clearly in the best interest of the patient-consumer. And this holds true for all with a stake in healthcare. Better data and better tools invariably lead to better-informed decisions.


Patients will become more empowered, increasingly sophisticated purchasers of healthcare and its attendant services. This will not lead to them purchasing less healthcare, quite the opposite. But it will apply pressure to lower prices and improve safety and quality.


Clinicians will be able to deliver demonstrably safer, higher quality and more reliable care. Hospital operators and health system administrators will be able to apply data-driven improvements to business and clinical operations. All of which, when added together, should help providers cut waste and inefficiency even more, lowering costs and improving operating revenues.


All this data will, most assuredly, change practice. Since so many in healthcare are drawn by the mission to save lives and improve health, transparency’s greatest disruptions of all will be both formal and informal sets of checks and balances to make sure the system benefits everyone.


Ultimately it will change how the industry talks about itself. Through all this data, it will be easy to lose sight of your “story.” That’s certainly true here. Tools and data are great, but when it comes to making sense of complicated subjects these will only get you so far. What story will your transparently shared data tell your stakeholders? Comparable costs don’t tell much, unless they have context. How will stakeholders and your patients make sense of your data? For that matter, how will you make sense of your data? And how will you make sure your story enhances, rather than detracts, from the compassionate care you provide. Healthcare is competitive, and it’s about to become more so. As John Quincy Adams said, “Whoever tells the best story wins.” He didn’t say, whoever has the best data wins.


That’s what I think, let me know what you think in the comments below or email me at mark@summitstrategygroup.net






By Mark Riordan

Managing Director, Healthcare Practice Lead