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Healthcare Information:
Converting Water Drops to a Tsunami

Water Drops Become TsunamiI am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.
Abraham Lincoln

A free-market system is most efficient when consumers have relevant facts about the products and services they desire. After all, knowing the cost, features and benefits of each consumable good or service is the first step in having informed purchasers.

But unfortunately, this is not yet reality within the U.S. healthcare ‘system.’ A group of highly-imaginative, energetic people armed with the world’s largest chalkboard could not purposely design a more complex, dysfunctional system if they had tried. To put it mildly, our currently-structured healthcare system is so complicated and rife with economic conflict that every attempt to simplify it actually complicates it further.

An April Health Tracking Poll from Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that very few Americans use quality and cost information on hospitals and doctors – and the reasons are numerous. First of all, finding access to updated comparative quality information is a hit-and-miss process, with only 13 percent of Americans claiming to have seen quality information comparing hospitals or doctors (10 percent) during the last 12 months. Of those people, only four percent used the information for hospitals while just six percent for doctors. As for pricing information, a scant six percent saw comparative pricing information for hospitals or doctors in the past year, and only half as many actually used the information.

These numbers are dismal. But the results should not suggest that Americans are indifferent in desiring this information. It is the complexities of our system that are preventing those who seek quality and affordable healthcare.

‘Reputation’ and ‘location’ appear to dominate the choice of providers we use, possibly trumping any immediate urge to seek ‘quality’ and ‘price’ information. For the time being, we haven’t made much headway in the development of reliable quality and price information. This is unfortunate since the healthcare sector sucks up about one-fifth of our economy!

Healthcare data needs a ‘Steve Jobs’ moment. As many Apple products revolutionized social and recreational connectivity through innovation, the creation of a huge data ‘bank’ can revolutionize healthcare. But this will only become reality when we desire to make the connection of quality and price to serve our best interests.

Can this be done? You bet it can.

Mount RushmoreIf humans can put a man on a moon using technology from the 60s*, dig a tunnel under the English Channel (31.4 miles long), chisel four American presidents from a granite mountain top, build pyramids in the middle of a desert (approximately 4,700 years ago), and perform other countless miraculous marvels – why can’t we figure out how to consistently deliver basic healthcare information to Americans (utilizing advanced technology we have today)?

The common thread that ties together each of these amazing feats is just one thing: Having the WILL to succeed. When it comes to healthcare, we appear to be a fractured country. We have failed to define our goal to engage Americans to be more involved with our health and, consequently, our subsequent care. Yes, our own behaviors determine our health, but we should not have to blindly seek the care we need.

Metaphorically, each of us represents a drop of water, placed in a vast ocean. By ourselves, we cannot cause a tsunami of change (or revolution) without first coming together with a massive number of other water drops to make the difference in how we desire to receive care in the future. Tsunamis have developed in other markets, and it is only a matter of time before we have monster waves appear in healthcare.

Each drop of water can make a difference!

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*Some Americans believe that having a man on the moon was merely a fabrication in the back lot of a studio!