When your medical care hurts, do you Yelp?

SurgeonsHealth consumers want more transparency, so rating systems like Yelp, Angie’s List, the Surgeon Scorecard, or any other tool that helps the market better understand health care cost, quality and value will play an important role in evaluating providers.

Those on the top of the healthcare mountain and slowest to adapt may be most at risk from disruptive change. After all, 429 of the original Fortune 500 [1955] are no longer in business or anywhere near the top, and that’s a scary thought for those who are not yet seeking & embracing such change but are instead hiding from it.

Wikileaks for Healthcare

That’s how I responded to Todd Johnson’s article, Wikileaks for Healthcare, which is about ProPublica’s new Surgeon Scorecare (see video below). ProPublica, as an independent, non-profit newsroom organization, has published searchable Medicare data about complication rates for surgeons and hospitals across the country, giving consumers new options for selecting medical care.

Todd describes this announcement like a Transparency Earthquake to the healthcare system. Its importance was amplified two days later when HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that the movement requiring physicians to provide a “warranty” for their services is upon us. Now any individual consumer, consulting physician, or provider network can look up complication rates by surgeon and hospital. Consumers can use the tool to shop for doctors; insurance companies can use it to negotiate payment rates; institutions can use it to determine employment terms; and doctors can use it to test their own practice against competition. Those who exploit the new data will have an advantage over those who don’t.

Todd then goes on to describe problems with electronic medical record (EMR) systems, because they’re backwards-looking. The EMR can’t tell doctors if a patient sent home after surgery has a fever or is showing signs of infection. And it can’t tell if the patient is complying with their drug regimen and exercise program. It’s just a record of past visits, test results and treatments. This can (and should) change with telemedicine, with the use of sensor devices to monitor patient status, and with predictive analytics to report when things needs adjustment.

ProPublica’s Surgeon Scorecard

In his article, Todd goes on to say that, “Now is the time that physicians need to challenge themselves and their organizations to embrace value-based agreements. They should advocate for transparency; not hide from it.”

While some providers will undoubtedly feel victimized by this new transparency, others will seen an opportunity in embracing it to improve the care they give, and thus their market share and income.