Teaming Up for Transparency

Added on Aug 4, 2015

One of the most important considerations for hospitals and health systems embarking on the transparency journey is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Transparency exists on a continuum. The “right” strategy has to be developed based on individual system readiness and the needs of each system’s leadership, physicians and other employees, and the patients being served. 

Every organization is different, and some are more prepared than others to dive into the transparency waters. For this reason, every strategy must start with a clear assessment of organizational readiness, and a plan to foster physician and stakeholder commitment to achieve true improvement and provide objective patient data. 

Some of the key elements to consider in your readiness checklist are: 

• Are you measuring the patient experience at the provider-level? 
• Are you sharing provider scores and comments internally across the group practice? 
• Do you have high alignment and trust between leadership and providers? 
• Do you have coaching programs in place to help providers improve? 
• Do you have leadership support to increase providers’ responsibility for results? 

Answers to these questions and other preparatory measures help to inform the transparency roadmap and enable the team to build a clear, structured path that typically starts with garnering support for internal transparency. Key steps such as conversations with physician leaders, internal review processes and reviewing posts are just a few critical items to consider. The progress of these efforts determines readiness for external transparency. 

Ultimately, the success of internal and external transparency is, of course, the quality of the data, and the ability to review and post the output quickly. At the most basic level, the volume of data must meet, and ideally far exceed, a minimum “n” size to be statistically valid and relevant. 

Next, the results must be packaged in a way that clients, and ultimately patients, can trust, such as data extracts of either Press Ganey Medical Practice Care Provider questions or CGCAHPS patient-provider communication questions expressed as star ratings, along with an ongoing extract of all patient comments, positive and negative. 

The goal is to ensure access to objective data, while optimizing (rather than limiting) publishing options. Also, the provider performance data must be based on a standard calculation measure to ensure consistency, relevance and trust. When stakeholders know where the data come from and that every score is reflected in the aggregate rating, they can be confident in the results. 

Publishing star ratings is not the end of the transparency continuum. In fact, in many ways, the online posting is just the beginning. Monitoring the results over time—tracking and reporting the impact of transparency efforts on scores and response rates—identifies opportunities for improvement and guides action planning. The data are important, but the lessons gleaned from the data are transformational.