A simple concept to improve care

With all the cutting-edge software programs designed to help providers track trends, it seems the relatively simple concept of transparency is driving significant change.

Transparency is a relatively inexpensive and effective tool to achieve higher value in healthcare, said Robert Wachter, MD, professor and interim chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, during a webinar on patient safety.

“We have found that just putting data out there seems to drive levels of improvement that often are surprising and not as difficult and fraught as many people worry about.”

Barriers to transparency include fears about conflict, disclosure and the potential negative effects on reputation and finances; the lack of a pervasive safety culture and the leadership commitment needed to create it. Stakeholders have a strong interest in maintaining the status quo. The lack of reliable data and standards for reporting and assessing clinician behavior regarding transparency also are hurdles.

“There is always going to be a tug-of-war between the forces that promote and the forces that prohibit transparency,” Wachter said. “To me, the issue here is that IT tips the balance massively towards transparency. IT changes the dynamic of this equation so that some of the objections are now overcome because of the ease with which you are able to be transparent.”

Transparency leads to consumer choice and clinical/system improvement. Measures are getting better over time, Wachter said, getting more user-friendly and tailored for patient preferences and needs.

“Transparency works better than we expected, pay for performance doesn’t work as well as expected and transparency is easier and much less politically charged.”

Is your organization opening up?

Beth Walsh

Clinical Innovation + Technology editor