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Tag: paternalism

What Business Can Learn From Cleveland Clinic: How To Report Quality To The Public

This summer I spent some time exploring how big teaching hospitals publicly report clinical outcomes to the public. For a given set of patients, how many live or die? And with what complications?

Patients can rarely find this information before getting elective surgery, or when deciding to commit to a given institution for a long-term course of treatment.

The problem is that right now there are few short-term incentives for hospitals to be transparent  to the public. Patients are used to finding care based on proximity, word-of-mouth, and referrals from trusted physicians. (None of these are bad methods, by the way.)

Meanwhile insurers and public programs rarely pay for better outcomes, so they do not build networks that steer patients to quality. Paternalism pervades the entire system, where insurers and providers alike do not trust patients to shop for the best care.

Thus it is only the most long-term focused institutions that decide to become radically transparent. And there’s one that stands out above the rest: Cleveland Clinic.

The Ohio institution is already known for excellent care, especially in cardiology, for being a “well-oiled machine”, and for being an economic bright spot in the otherwise dreary environs of Cuyahoga County. (Sorry, as  Pittsburgher it’s hard for me to say nice things about the Mistake By The Lake.)

But something else Cleveland Clinic should be known for is its public outcomes reporting. Every year since at least 2005 Cleveland Clinic has published Outcomes Books on its Web site. For each clinical category it releases data on mortality, complication rates, and patient satisfaction. It also mails paper copies of these books to specialists around the country as a kind of transparency-marketing. No other hospital system comes close to reporting this level of detail about the quality of its care.

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Medicine Unplugged

Just as the little mobile wireless devices radically transformed our day-to-day lives, so will such devices have a seismic impact on the future of health care. It’s already taking off at a pace that parallels the explosion of another unanticipated digital force — social networks.

Take your electrocardiogram on your smartphone and send it to your doctor. Or to pre-empt the need for a consult, opt for the computer-read version with a rapid text response. Having trouble with your vision? Get the $2 add-on to your smartphone and get your eyes refracted with a text to get your new eyeglasses or contact lenses made. Have a suspicious skin lesion that might be cancer? Just take a picture with your smartphone and you can get a quick text back in minutes with a determination of whether you need to get a biopsy or not. Does your child have an ear infection? Just get the scope attachment to your smartphone and get a 10x magnified high-resolution view of your child’s eardrums and send them for automatic detection of whether antibiotics will be needed. Worried about glaucoma? You can get the contact lens with an embedded chip that continuously measures eye pressure and transmits the data to your phone. These are just a few examples of the innovative smartphone software and hardware — apps and “adds” technology — that have been developed and will soon be available for broad use.

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