That will invite in the controversy, because just looking at cost without the associated quality measures is bound to be taken out of context by someone somewhere. To some extent, because the newly released data hasn't been poured into apps as easy to use as Yelp, some of that controversy hasn't erupted yet. And there's always the possibility that a Yelp-style app won't capture the nuance or the inherent value of a medical encounter. The ensuing outcry could simply be added to all the other perceived outrages of our public healthcare debate.
Still, Spradlin pointed out that in the initial flush of reportage after April 9, reporters and healthcare critics were able to go after apparently inflated costs.
"It took all of about a day for them to start finding which providers had the highest billing numbers," Spradlin said. "But it certainly won't be the last word." Geographic variations, socioeconomic variables and other deep population analysis "may be the most interesting of all. Some of that could come out of this competition. People will be analyzing this data for months and months. I think the least interesting thing is actually what got published on April 10."
Every time more of this data gets released, a network effect will kick in, with new opportunities to correlate previously-released data with the new.