The Road to Transparency: Staying the Course

Added on Feb 2, 2015

Transparency matters. It’s that simple. Providing access to high-quality, relevant data leads to more-informed decision-making, promotes accountability and identifies improvement opportunities.

But transparency itself is not a solution; it is a vehicle. It is what allows organizations—and individuals within organizations—to evaluate their performance more completely. It also enables them to understand where they are relative to industry standards, organizational objectives and individual goals.

Health systems that have embarked on successful transparency journeys have developed processes for robust data collection, program education, secure information management and a consumer-friendly reporting platform. However, making physician performance data available and easily accessible is only the first leg of the journey. 

The next step is deriving insights from the amassed data, developing sustainable improvement strategies to address deficits and engaging physicians and other caregivers in the improvement process. These goals can only be achieved when there is a culture of trust and a sense of shared purpose among all stakeholders, according Dr. Thomas H. Lee, Press Ganey chief medical officer.

“Transparency will only have its desired effect if those who are directly touched by it—those whose performance is being openly shared and those whose day-to-day responsibilities will be influenced by changes in the way care is delivered—trust the organization’s intentions and are aligned with its mission and vision,” Dr. Lee said.

While health care systems are not mandated to be fully transparent with their patient experience data, many have begun to realize that their ability to compete in the new consumer-driven health market depends on their ability to continually demonstrate that they deliver high-quality care. Today’s health care consumer demands more choice, increased engagement and an overall better experience. These demands can best be met by continually and consistently measuring performance and sharing outcomes openly. 

“Health care is in the midst of an unprecedented transition, moving toward a marketplace where systems must compete on the ‘right’ things: outcomes that matter to patients and the efficiency with which those outcomes are achieved,” Dr. Lee said. 

The path to transparency is not always easy, but those who are committed to staying the course will be in the best position to improve provider performance and achieve greater patient-centeredness.

“Becoming transparent with our ratings sends a message to our teams about the importance of each individual patient. It elevates the team's accountability to our patients, the communities we serve, and to one another,” according to Anthony G. Vastardis, CEO of the Wisconsin-based Dental Associates, a recipient of a 2014 Press Ganey Leader in Transparency Award. “Today’s consumer is more engaged in their health care decisions than ever. In response, we’ve implemented a completely transparent way for patients to review and select a provider who’s right for them. By featuring patient-experience ratings and comments about our dentists on our websites, we are giving control to the consumer.”

Health care systems that have blazed the transparency trail will share some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way during the Transparency Summit 2015, which takes place on March 5, 2015, in Denver, Colo. Cosponsored by Press Ganey and the University of Utah Health Care, the event will offer health care leaders first-hand insight into how the trend toward greater transparency will affect their organizations.