Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The experts agree on transparency

It can feel lonely out here when you are beating the drum for transparency as a necessary supportive adjunct to process improvement. So it is really nice when some of the world's experts on the topic are singing the same tune.

I just saw this article, entitled "Truth Telling: Can Your Hospital Handle It?" by Bill Santamour at H&HN Daily today. I promise that I read it after writing yesterday's post. Excerpts:

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill . . . said hospitals ought to post rates of nosocomial infections, patient falls, medication errors and employee injuries on the Internet for all to see, and he thinks they ought to do it every day. "Let's bring some energy to this," he said.

Gary S. Kaplan, M.D., CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, agrees that transparency is key. Improving safety "is really about change management, making our organizations better. How can we do this unless we have an environment of transparency?"

[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."

My quotes from yesterday:

Transparency's major societal and strategic imperative is to provide creative tension within hospitals so that they hold themselves accountable. This accountability is what will drive doctors, nurses, and administrators to seek constant improvements in the quality and safety of patient care.

[T]ransparency of data alone is not sufficient. What makes it powerful in establishing creative tension in an organization are: The currency of the data; the fact that the metrics being made transparent have been chosen by those involved in the process improvement efforts; and the fact that the transparent outcomes are supported by a structure of ongoing process improvement.


Anonymous said...

I think your last point, that the transparent outcomes must be supported by a structure of process improvement, is supported by another quote from O'Neill:
"Organizations are habitually excellent or they're not," he said at last week's National Patient Safety Foundation Congress near Washington, D.C

Therein lies the crux, as you indicate - are hospitals going to 'play the game' by simply complying with the letter of the law, or use it as motivation to embark on wholesale change?

nonlocal MD

Anonymous said...

Transparency and public reaction to transparency could lead to patients getting more of their questions answered. Qs such as "How much does that cost?" and "Are there other options?" might play a part in reducing health care costs. I found this helpful in forming Qs: