Delivering high quality patient care with the best patient outcomes is the ultimate goal of healthcare systems. But, in the face of myriad challenges, effective governance is essential to the efficient and economical delivery of healthcare choices to patients. Transparency is becoming a precondition to achieving these requirements. Hospital boards, equipped with the right technology, can play a fundamental role in the pursuit of transparent healthcare, with the leadership necessary to ensure that hospitals are offering the best patient care in the most efficient manner.
Healthcare costs are rising, budgets are strained, and patients have the expectation of high levels of service and transparency. Determining the right approach to healthcare governance is an ever-increasing challenge for decision makers.
According to the IPAC’s discussion paper on Healthcare Governance Models in Canada, Canadians expect their healthcare system to:
- deliver care that is safe and high quality, making use of the most recent technological innovations;
- involve patients and families in the decision-making process regarding their care;
- be transparent, accountable and integrated.
In the face of an aging population, growth in chronic illnesses, implementation of new technologies and costly pharmaceuticals, all of which are impacting healthcare costs, decision makers must find new ways to deliver the best patient care efficiently, effectively, and economically (1).
Canada is not alone in these challenges. The United States is undergoing a healthcare revolution. The U.S. healthcare system has been characterized as one masked with obscurity around costs, prices, and quality. But now, public demand for transparency is changing the face of the healthcare market (2). Patients want choices along with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare services. It is up to Hospital boards to ensure that their expectations are met.
Transparency: A Precondition for Delivering Healthier Choices
“Information is power and, by sharing it, we can deliver modern, personalized, and sustainable public services.” – British Prime Minister David Cameron
There is emerging evidence that transparency (sharing data) is a key precondition for service improvement and productivity. According to McKinsey & Company, this concept is well established across industry sectors; sharing data between consumers and companies lowers costs and improves quality. The need for transparency may well be the most powerful driver of healthcare system improvements.
Research has shown that transparency has the potential to enhance:
- Accountability – Ineffective or poor practices come to light when data is shared. Once weak areas are identified, appropriate and potentially life-saving changes can be made.
- Choice – The availability of comparative data gives patients the information they need in order to choose between healthcare options. Evidence indicates that offering choices is an effective way of improving standards.
- Productivity – Sharing information and data prompts more cost-effective efforts, proven through studies which have shown that scrutiny is a sufficient incentive for behavioural change.
- Quality & Outcomes – In conjunction with productivity, sharing data promotes improvement in the delivery of services. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that data reporting is as effective an incentive as financial rewards in convincing health care providers to improve quality of care.
- Economic Growth– Increasing the availability of information opens doors to new opportunities for private and public sector organizations. Data can be used to discover unmet needs, develop new products, and improve designs to continuously better the efficiency of current operations (3).
“Transparency has the potential to enhance accountability, productivity, and quality of service delivery; increase patient’s involvement in their own care; and drive economic growth. Even if it achieves only some of these goals, it will significantly improve health system performance.” – McKinsey & Company
Making the Right Decisions
Data is abundant in healthcare – it comes down to how and what should be shared. It is incumbent on hospital boards to make strategic decisions that will ensure that the right information is effectively and efficiently delivered to all those involved in the healthcare system – from practitioners to patients, and to the public at large.
Transparency across you hospital may begin with the board, but can extend to all clinics, departments, and personnel. If increased transparency, better collaboration, and improved communication are on your hospital’s agenda this year, consider taking a look at how eSCRIBE can help you.
(1) Source: Institute of Public Administration Canada. (2013). Healthcare Governance Models in Canada: A Provincial Perspective http://www.ipac.ca/documents/ALL-COMBINED.pdf
(2) Source: The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes: Workshop Summary Series. (2010) 10, Transparency of Cost and Performance. From Institute of Medicine (US) Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53921
(3) Source: McKinsey & Company (2011) Transparency – the most powerful driver of health care improvement? https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/Healthcare%20Systems%20and%20Services/Health%20International/Issue%2011%20new%20PDFs/HI11_64%20Transparency_noprint.ashx