The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council ("PHC4") has posted its latest annual report entitled, "Good Data Drives Good Decisions." [Undated, but marked as "new" on the website, as seen above.] It is so thoughtfully and clearly written that I would like to say, "Well done," but no, it is not.
From the introduction:
Now more than ever, PHC4’s data on the cost and quality of health care services is needed to make informed decisions, to facilitate competition in the health care arena, and to critically evaluate the value Pennsylvanians receive in return for their health care dollars. In the coming years, good data will be needed to thoughtfully implement health care programs and to evaluate their effectiveness. Good data is also essential in identifying and eliminating significant cost drivers, such as preventable waste and error. The Council can serve as a valuable resource in providing this data.
The problem, as I noted in the past with regard to Massachusetts data and Federally provided data, is timeliness. Although the report is dated 2010, the numbers presented are much older. The report discusses chronic health conditions and payments for them in 2007; hospital-specific information for 31 common procedures and treatments performed in Pennsylvania’s general acute care hospitals from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009; coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and/or valve surgeries performed in Pennsylvania in 2007 and 2008; readmissions in 2008; hospital acquired infection data from 2009; financial results from FY 2009.
Not mentioned in the annual report, but available elsewhere on the website, are more recent financial reports, for FY2010. Now we are getting better, but even those were not published until September 2011.
As I said with regard to Massachusetts, "Don't you think we deserve more timely information about the quality of our [care] than we can get about cars, airplanes, and commuter rail?"
And, "We all appreciate the steps the state is taking, but if we are going to be serious about transparency, let's improve what is posted so consumers have up-to-date and accurate information."
And, "While you cannot manage what you do not measure, trying to manage with data that are a year or two or more older is like trying to drive viewing the road through a rearview mirror."
"[The government] information reported needs to be a lot more up to date, said Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "We're not so good at timely transparency," she said. "We must get to a place where we get data in something like real time."
Some will say that I am being too picky, but I just don't see how these PHC4 data or other such data from other states help "to make informed decisions, to facilitate competition in the health care arena, and to critically evaluate the value Pennsylvanians receive in return for their health care dollars."
Maybe some people from the state, including those members of the PHC4 board, will dispute this and give us all a better explanation. Here's the list and a promise to print anything they post on this blog in reply: