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HL20: Charles Ornstein—Pushing Healthcare Transparency for the Public Good

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 3, 2013

"The goal of transparency is first to ensure that the public is informed, that they have all of the information easily at their disposal when they have to make important and personal healthcare decisions," Ornstein says. "Secondly, it is to create discussion about if our healthcare system is as safe as it can be, and if it is not, what can be done to make it safer. Finally, the importance of putting the information out in an easy-to-use and easy-to-analyze way is that you provide a level of context that wasn't necessarily there before."

In 2010 Ornstein and his ProPublica colleagues launched the Dollars for Docs online tool that allows the public to see if their physicians have a financial relationship with pharmaceutical companies.

"We created that because drug companies had begun putting in online information about their payments to physicians but they didn't do it in a way that was easily searched or aggregated or analyzed," Ornstein says. "We thought we could do it in a way that brought transparency to the topic rather than translucency."

In August, 2012 ProPublica launched a site that facilitates public access to nursing home inspection reports. "The goal was to take the data the federal government was collecting on its Nursing Home Compare website about nursing home inspections but make it much easier for people to search through information," Ornstein says.

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