"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

Interview between David E. Williams, President of the Health Business Group, and Jim Chase, president of MN Community Measurement

Partial transcript of podcast interview between David E. Williams, President of the Health Business Group, and Jim Chase, president of MN Community Measurement
Health Business Blog, May 6, 2014

Williams: Jim, Minnesota Community Measurement is managing a new initiative called The DOCTOR Project. What can you tell us about it?

Chase: Well, this is the project we’re hoping will build new ways for people across the country to be able to share and find reliable information about healthcare performance. Things have changed a lot in the last couple of years. There are regions that have pretty robust information on the performance of providers and the communities in healthcare. And this is the first time we’ll be able to put information together across communities so a national employer or a national publication can use it.

Williams: I understand there’s a goal to work with ten communities to develop consumer-friendly reports. Have those communities been selected yet? Is there an opportunity for new communities to join? Where do things stand?

Chase: We’re in the process of contacting these ten communities that we know could be ready for the first publication, which will probably be in 2015. We’re working with them over the next few months to identify what data they have and finalize the agreements. We’re getting the word out as we’re finding that others who weren’t aware of this are interested in joining. So we expect this to be an ongoing process. There may be some who aren’t ready today but will be in a few months.  So, we’re hoping to get this started with the first ten but we hope that this gets people interested and that we’ll see more communities participating in the future. I also hope this is an opportunity when the information comes out, that people in other communities will ask, “Why can’t I get this kind of information on my physician?” And we’ll see a growth in areas that want to participate.

Williams: Jim, the term communities is a little bit vague. How big are these communities? Are they whole states or regions? Are they towns or cities?

Chase: It varies a little bit. There are several initiatives that are statewide. There are  statewide initiatives in California, Minnesota and Massachusetts.  Also communities around Cincinnati and Cleveland, OH. So we’ll see a mix there, but we want it to be large enough to be of interest to a national organization. We realize that not everybody is able to be statewide at this point.

Williams: I understand the initiative is focused on consumers. So, assuming your project gets going and is a success over these communities, what would it mean for consumers? How will it help them on a practical basis?

Chase: It’s interesting, in almost every segment of our economy active consumers drive improvement and value, and the same control can hold true for healthcare. So, making available this information we found in our own communities has motivated the healthcare community to take steps to improve the outcome and value of the care. It gives them information to where they can focus, but because it’s public, it also motivates change. And we also think this information can help the patients themselves get better care. Surveys have shown that more people want information to help them choose a provider that’s best for them.

We also plan to combine provider and performance information with tools and other resources when we put this out. It helps patients get better care for themselves. How do they work with their physician? What kind of questions can they ask? What can they do to help themselves get better outcomes?

Williams: I know you mentioned publications and talking about 2015 for an initial publication date. I also saw that Consumer Reports is involved and I know that they’ve been involved in some prior work that you have been associated with as well. How is Consumer Reports involved in this DOCTOR Project?

Chase: This is actually building on a project that we did with them in 2012 and ’13, where three regions – communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts – partnered with Consumer Reports to publish an insert in their magazine with the local data that we had. And one of the things we found from Consumer Reports was they really needed to be broader to affect more of their subscribers. So, they’re going to be a really important partner in this work. We hope to publish results in some issues of their magazine next year.

And they bring some really important things to the mix. They have an audience of subscribers that are used to using this data, this kind of information, to make choices. And they can get the information out there to a lot of people. That was very important to us. There are a lot of subscribers in Minnesota. We want to be able to take the data  in all these communities and get it to where people are and where they’re looking for information.

They also have a lot of experience on how to present information, so it’s useful for consumers. Many of us in the healthcare industry are used to talking to physicians in the hospital about this kind of data but we haven’t had as much experience in working with consumers. So it’s a great opportunity to partner with them, with their expertise on how to talk plainly to a knowledgeable consumer audience and get them information that they can really use to help themselves.

Read the full interview with Jim Chase here.