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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Empowering Healthcare Consumers with Price and Quality Information

Going Forward with the Scorched Earth Platform of the President-Elect
The display of offal during the 2016 presidential election continues to stain my mind and  incites humor and we are sure to receive plenty of comedic material from the crotch-grabber-in-chief. This is the 100th article I have published under the healthpolicymaven blog and since he-who-shall-not-be-named was elected President, my readership has tripled. 
I have been publishing Straight Talk on Health Care since December 12, 2007, when a candidate for governor of Washington ran on a platform to reduce healthcare access for children, which inflamed my sensibilities and inspired my direct-to-consumer advocacy.  The purpose of this column, which is published in blog form, but adheres to strict journalistic standards for research and references, is to empower the public with useful information which can inform healthcare decisions. In other words, what information, presented in an understandable, and engaging manner do we need to make better decisions about our health treatments, how we pay for those services, how much we pay for our health care, and how do we gauge the quality of care. Here are the most popular postings for this blog:

Insurance Changes From the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Hospital Quality-Checks and Balances
Employer Rules for PPACA Grandfathered Health Care Plans
Evidence Based Planning and the Obama Protocols
Health Insurance Premiums and Government Oversight: Consumer Implications from the Affordable Care Act Implications
Affordable Care Act-Pragmatic Implementation
Hospital Billing and the Uninsured-Class Action Lawsuit
Health Care & Public Policy Books Worth Reading

As you can see, there is much more of interest than just the Affordable Care Act, which is surely going to change under the Republican administration. In addition to this column, I am also a health care and public policy book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.  Elisabeth Rosenthal’s, An American Sickness-How Healthcare Became Big Business And How You Can Take It Back, is scheduled for release in April and is a riveting expose on the rip offs in U.S. health care and how to find comparative price information.
 When I finished my Master of Health Administration in 2004, my capstone project was Increasing the Engagement of the Public In Understanding Health Systems, and at that time, there was little health quality information and even less price transparency for U.S. healthcare consumers. Now, thanks to cloud sharing technology and smart phones, there is quite a bit of information on clinical outcomes readily available through reputable sources.
Here is an example of quality rankings for cardiac procedures:
Here is a tool to assess hospital quality rankings, based on patient safety measures:
Here is an example of how to determine a fair price for your proposed treatment:

With this next level of transparency for the price of health services, consumers will be more empowered to choose wisely, as the Lown encourages. Knowledge is power and the more patients are educated before they obtain health services, the more likely they are to gain an optimal result.
And this is the healthpolicymaven signing off, wishing you a happy and healthy new year.

Roberta Winter is the author of Unraveling U.S. Healthcare-A Personal Guide, a consumer guide to the U.S. healthcare system.

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