"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

Providers: Data helps patients be good consumers

By Nate Gotlieb, Mankato Free Press
Saturday, April 18, 2015

Local medical leaders appear to support the publication of health data, noting how it creates a level of transparency for patients.

“It really creates an element of accessibility which historically health care hasn’t had to do,” said Dr. Steve Campbell, chief quality officer of Mayo Clinic Health System Southwest Minnesota Region.

The site ranks medical providers statewide on a variety of measures, with all the data publicly available. The site includes data on clinics, medical groups and hospitals, not individual doctors.

Dr. Julie Gerndt, chief medical officer for the Mankato Clinic, cautioned consumers from using the site to compare individual clinics, noting they won’t be able to draw accurate conclusions because of the small sample size. Medical group data provide a more accurate picture of the Mankato Clinic, she said.

Campbell said Minnesota should be proud of developing a culture of health care improvement. He said the scores are a reasonable tool for consumers if they want to look at health care providers based on metrics.

The electronic world is relatively new for health care, he said, noting that health care has historically been more reactive than proactive. He also said health care is shifting from a volume-based system to a value-based system and that future insurance reimbursements are going to be based on quality measures.

“It’s a different paradigm and one that is not without challenges,” he said. “(But) it’s still about providing the best care you can every day.”

Dr. Dan Holmberg of New Ulm Medical Center said this information motivates providers to work harder and try to improve. Allina uses data to compare clinics internally, he said, while the HealthScores help the center compare to its regional peers.

He said patients will get a better sense of being a consumer in the health care market over time.

“We don’t want our quality to be a mystery,” he said. “We want people to see the things we’re doing.”

Read the original article in the Mankato Free Press.