Friday, August 01, 2014

They said what?

The health care world is full of companies that make outrageous unsupported assertions as they pursue profitability.  Generally, the media accept what is said and don't ask hard questions.

Now somebody is asking.

Al Lewis has started a blog called They Said What?, on which he posts the assertions made by companies and asks questions that probe the accuracy.  He offers the company an advanced chance to respond.  Here's the summary:

TheySaidWhat? asks questions that identify possible mistakes in high-visibility contexts and offers those who committed the mistakes the opportunity to correct, apologize for or retract their mistakes…or explain how their positions are correct and we have made a mistake by questioning them.   As described in the FAQs, we offer the perpetrators of the possible mistakes fully five courtesies that very few other critics would allow:
  1. Though in many cases these “mistakes” were likely not innocent ones, we make no accusations but rather simply ask questions and offer the opportunities for answers;
  2. We provide “equal billing” – the perpetrators can write their answers directly following the questions;
  3. We don’t ambush the perpetrators – we send these questions a week in advance, to allow them ample time to respond to these questions before publishing them;
  4. Even though there is significant cost to us in analyzing these case studies and posting these questions, and significant value to the perpetrators in being able to identify and correct their mistakes and not mislead their prospects and customers (and hence avoid the possibility of embarrassment or even a lawsuit down the road), we do not charge for this service – the perpetrators may respond gratis during that week.  After one week, they may still respond, but there is a charge.
  5. Uniquely, we also offered these organizations $1000, payable to them or their favorite charity, to answer these questions honestly.  This is probably the first time in history that anyone has offered bribes to people to simply tell the truth.
Several companies are already included.  Only one has chosen to respond thus far.

Readers can also submit nominations.


From Facebook said...

From Facebook:

Casey Quinlan That's an entertaining bit of news!

Beverly Heywood Rogers After reading some of the questions, I do think they have to take care to avoid the "when did you stop beating your wife" format; otherwise they simply become rhetorical questions.

Jonathan Lord Paul - I love how you approach hospitals. But your assertion here is dead wrong. While there may be outliers - most businesses want to make profits honestly - by providing a superior product or service

E-Patient Dave deBronkart Beverly, I agree - they'd be far far better off to list one or two undeniably valid, inescapable questions per company.

Al Lewis said...

Folks, thank you very much for your comments. I did modify the site based on them, and here are specific answers. First, they ARE largely rhetorical questions, and I am coming right out and saying it on the site. (And I also took out some of the worst rhetorical offenders.)

Second, there is a website launching in two weeks in which honest wellness vendors are highlighted, at no cost to them. However, They Said What? highlights a different segment. (One vendor did write back in very good faith quite concerned that their data might be incorrect, so I took them off the site altogether! I would be happy to put you in touch with them. They are a medical home vendor.)

Third, hi Dave, long time no chat. I am going through and culling questions per your suggestion but will never be able to whittle it down that far.

Finally, someone else somewhere had said "maybe Al's assertions are wrong too," so I added a section with a $20,000 to $60,000 reward for finding one such materially incorrect assertion. This is not he said-she said. This is pure arithmetic, so I am not overly concerned about having to pay out.

Anonymous said...

So very grateful for this one. I would love to put the group down I had a problem with and let them publically ask questions. Its interesting in that I've been asking and asking with no responses or they don't want to publicize them.

Well if you are right and all the facts are there, how can you be harmed by me showing your care?