All I Want for Christmas is… Transparency

All I Want for Christmas is… Transparency

White Christmas Gift‘Tis the season to start predicting healthcare trends for 2015. PWC has issued its top ten healthcare issues to watch in 2015 and we particularly like number six:

New transparency initiatives targeting clinical trial data, real-world patient outcomes and financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical companies will improve patient care and open new opportunities.

Is this enough though? Where’s the transparency in the overall cost of healthcare for the consumer? It’s not all about the physician/pharmaceutical relationship. There’s much more to transparency and much more that needs to happen.

Early this year we saw a study about the disparity of costs from one hospital to the next for the same procedure. Often the hospitals were just a few miles apart. These types of scenarios are why a cottage industry has formed that will fight the hospitals on charges and help consumers lower their bills. It’s also why consumers have no faith in the healthcare system in general. If the bills can be lowered, they should have been in the first place.

There’s no doubt that consumers are getting more savvy when it comes to their health and they’re taking greater control of important health decisions. PWC also notes a move towards, what they call, “Do-it-yourself healthcare” – consumers using mobile apps and wearable technology to improve their healthcare. It’s this kind of technology that should be employed to improve transparency. Healthcare is data, technology is key to data gathering, and technology will improve overall transparency in costs.

At the beginning of this year we hoped that 2014 would be a year of healthcare clarity, following the muddled start and confusion surrounding The Affordable Care Act in 2013. To a great extent (but not entirely) there is less confusion. We won’t go so far as to say we got complete clarity, but things have certainly improved. If the overarching goal of the ACA was to insure more people, then there’s been some degree of success. True healthcare reform, however, is still light years away it seems to us.

So, for 2015, it is our fervent hope that transparency in healthcare becomes a big focus. We hope it is a “trend” and not just a discussion piece for professional conferences and conventions. It should be at the top of any and all yearly predictions for many years to come, not buried in the list and certainly not limited in nature. An informed healthcare consumer is a happy consumer. A happy consumer is a healthy consumer. Here’s to greater overall transparency in 2015.