Impact Insights

Week in Review 4/24/15

An excellent article in Modern Healthcare looks at the current state – and current challenges – of data exchange.  The article notes there is more data being shared electronically than ever, especially using the C-CDA (Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture) standard – which is the required format for summary of care records under meaningful use.  As Modern Healthcare points out though, the significant increase in C-CDA documents exchanged in the last year only tells part of the story.  There is no guarantee that the recipient will even look at the file that is sent, and many that do may not find the information valuable.  Part of the problem cited by providers is the sheer volume of data the sender is required to include in the C-CDA to meet MU requirements – and that fact that information may be very different from what the recipient actually wants and needs.

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts:  The article is highly recommended reading.  We particularly appreciate how the author points out that many of the studies and data being used to tout an increase in HIE activity don’t really tell the whole story.  Sending more C-CDAs is one thing, but we agree that we still have a long way to go when it comes to exchange of actionable, structured information between unaffiliated organizations.

Few people say they have come across information comparing the quality or cost of different providers – and far fewer said they have actually used that information.  For example, only 13% of the 1,500 adults surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they had even seen quality comparisons of hospitals in the last 12 months – and only 4% said they actually used it to make a decision.  Experience with price comparisons of different hospitals was even lower, with 6% saying they had seen that information in the last year and only 2% saying they used it.  Almost two-thirds of respondents also said it was either “somewhat” or “very” difficult to find out how much specific services provided by different doctors and hospitals would cost them.

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts: There are two important components of empowering patients about healthcare costs and quality.  The first is getting the information in front of them.  The second is making that information sufficiently understandable so they can actually rely on it to make decisions.  Unfortunately, the latter is much easier said than done, given the inherent complexities in provider prices and patient coverage – and the subjective nature of trying to quantify quality.

In case you missed it… the much discussed “SGR repeal bill” passed by Congress is now law.  For more information on what some of the provisions could mean for providers, be sure to read our Week in Review blog entries from March 20, 2015 and April 3, 2015!