Earlier this year Ornstein, who serves as an AHCJ board member, and the AHCJ finalized a two-year effort to make hospital inspection reports readily accessible online. "Up until now people have had to file Freedom of Information Act requests with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for their local hospitals' inspection reports," Ornstein says. "You would not expect a member of the public to do that. Even many journalists wouldn't do that because it takes time and you don't know what you're going to get. The idea was the federal government collects this information. It may not use it. It may not look at it. But journalists certainly should have this information at their disposal so that they could assess the quality of their local hospitals and rather than just judge them on reputation or patient satisfaction they can actually see what health inspectors found."
Ornstein says the transparency movement in healthcare is accelerating. "Part of the reasons for that are the changes in our healthcare system," he says. "As additional costs and decision making are pushed to consumers, they have to have the information available to make a decision. They have to have cost information if they are on the hook for a greater share of the cost, and they will also want to have quality information so they can determine if the trade-off is worth it."