What is Transparency in Healthcare?

With all the debate about the high cost of good healthcare, it’s not surprising that we’re all demanding more transparency in healthcare. Transparency is not just important for the patients but also for the physicians, payers, and providers. By not only demanding but providing transparency in the healthcare industry, good quality healthcare may once again be attainable and affordable for everyone.

What is Transparency in Regards to Healthcare?

When we think of or hear the word transparent or transparency, what comes to mind is the ability to see something clearly. In regards to healthcare, transparency would have the same meaning, which would be the ability to see clearly. Everyone, from the patient and physicians to the providers and payers, is seeking to have better transparency in healthcare. Without transparency, no one is fully aware of what’s going on and what type of service they are paying for. There needs to be more transparency in all areas of healthcare.

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Transparency for the Patient

Imagine going to the hospital with a stomach ache and hearing the barrage of tests they planned to run on you to determine the cause. If you were informed of the cost of the tests prior to having them performed, would you still have them done? Unless you have perfect health insurance, the answer would probably be no. Transparency for the patient is having the knowledge of how much the procedures are going to cost before the patient has them so that he or she can make an informed decision based on that information. The truth is that very few patients know what they’re going to have to pay for their healthcare until it’s too late.

Transparency for the Physician

Even though it is the physician or surgeon that’s providing or recommending the service, they seldom know the true and total cost of the service. They also don’t know the quality of service the patient is getting when they refer that patient to a colleague. The physicians are getting paid for the service, but there is no real accountability for the physician who made the referral if the patient doesn’t get the best possible service because there is no transparency.

Transparency Within a Healthcare Facility

The best way to improve both the cost and the quality of healthcare is to have more transparency within the healthcare organization. The transparency must start with the workforce and work its way right up to the administration. Although it’s only one small example if the CNAs or nurses knew exactly how much each band-aid cost, would they still provide a patient with three when one is sufficient?

The surgical staff can’t be expected to try to keep down costs in the surgical room if they have no idea what it’s costing them, the hospital and the patients. If the facility is not transparent about costly mistakes that have been made in the hospital, the workers might not be as cautious as they should. Transparency is necessary in all areas of healthcare.

Organizations like U.S. News & World Report often rank hospitals based on various factors, with the quality of patient care at the top of the list. However, with a lack of transparency, many of these rankings are inaccurate due to lack of information.

Healthcare should never be a luxury available and affordable only to the wealthy. From the low-income individual to the wealthy politician fighting for better healthcare, we’re all in agreement that changes must be made. The best way to attain these positive changes and provide the best health care for everyone is by having full transparency in healthcare on all levels.

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