Healthcare Transparency As A Blockbuster Drug

“If transparency were a medication, it would be a blockbuster, with billions of dollars in sales and accolades the world over. While it is crucial to be mindful of the obstacles to transparency and the tensions—and the fact that many stakeholders benefit from our current largely nontransparent system—our review convinces us that a health care system that embraces transparency across the four domains will be one that produces safer care, better outcomes, and more trust among all of the involved parties. Notwithstanding the potential rewards, making this happen will depend on powerful, courageous leadership and an underlying culture of safety.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 10.35.49 PMThe previous paragraph comes from the fifth and final National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute (LLI) White Paper entitled, “Shining a Light: Safer Health Care through Transparency”. Each of the five white papers address key issues that healthcare stakeholders will need to successfully manage if healthcare is to achieve zero preventable harm. I was honored to be part of the panel that helped create this paper and the 39 recommendations for greater transparency throughout healthcare.

Defining transparency as “the free, uninhibited flow of information that is open to the scrutiny of others”, the paper provides recommendations in four different domains of transparency:

  1. Transparency between clinicians and patients (illustrated by disclosure after medical errors)
  2. Transparency among clinicians themselves (illustrated by peer review and other mechanisms to share information within health care delivery organizations)
  3. Transparency of health care organizations with one another (illustrated by regional or national collaboratives)
  4. Transparency of both clinicians and organizations with the public (illustrated by public reporting of quality and safety data)

I encourage everyone to visit the LLI website and download the White Paper (click here for a copy). Increased transparency is critical to any Patient Safety mission. Greater transparency throughout the system is not only ethically correct, but will lead to improved outcomes, fewer errors, more satisfied patients, and lower costs.

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