Physician leaders key to bridge the quality information gap

By Matt Kuhrt

New tools have emerged in the fight to close the information gap dogging consumers in the U.S. healthcare marketplace. But according to a recent white paper from the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3), it's going to take buy-in from physician leaders to get those methodologies into wide enough use to move the needle.

The amount of information currently available to help consumers gauge the quality of medical care in their state is generally abysmal, as FiercePracticeManagement has previously reported.

In a normal economic market, consumers judge the value of a service based by weighing the price of the service against its quality, but the healthcare market routinely fails to provide data that would allow consumers to figure out what they need and what it should cost.

Because the data have been collected and controlled largely by physician and hospital organizations, the type of information that might help an average consumer sensibly choose among physicians often doesn't exist. The reasons for this aren't nefarious--the two groups' incentives simply haven't been in alignment.

Not-for-profit organizations have stepped into this void, including ProPublica and Consumers Checkbook, to whose offerings HCI3 now seeks to add a new metric based upon potentially avoidable complications.

These data are derived by looking at claims data on a procedure-by-procedure basis, and adjusting for the relative risk factors involved. The intention is to provide a quality component that consumers can then link to price in order to make a more informed comparison among providers.

Despite the growing availability of the claims data on which this methodology is based, the largest hurdle may be convincing the gatekeepers in charge of all-payer claims databases to release information for this type of use.

To learn more:
- read the white paper