Measuring the value of healthcare and using the data to influence outcomes isn't a distant goal. It's happening now and physicians are starting to get the message.
The message to physicians and healthcare executives couldn't be any clearer: Since your outcomes performance is more and more a matter of public record, you had better get a handle on the value you deliver before the public does.
After attending the Health Catalyst Analytics Summit last week in Salt Lake City, I am convinced that health leaders are not just talking about measuring value sometime in the future. They are doing it today and driving better outcomes, using that data transparency to get through to recalcitrant physicians and healthcare executives.
Jay T. Bishoff, MD
One such leader is Jay T. Bishoff, MD, director of the Intermountain Urological Institute at Intermountain Healthcare. He has to convince his fellow urologists and surgeons to pay attention to a series of dashboards displaying prostate cancer patient outcomes, including not only the cancer's progress or control, but also side effects such as incontinence or impotency.
Fellow urologists "get really sensitive about it," Bishoff told conference attendees. "They say, why are you doing this? I say, 'I'm doing this to help your patients have a better outcome because somebody is going to measure that, and they're going to put it online, whether you like it or not. So let's work together now to get better outcomes.'"
Out in Front
To get ahead of public reporting of these outcomes, Intermountain is working quickly to publicly report its prostate cancer treatment potency and continence rates, individually by surgeon, Bishoff says.
Intermountain's "obligation to deliver a measured experience" also translates into fewer biopsies for prostate cancer, saving money and reducing unnecessary discomfort and pain to patients.
The effort starts by constantly scouring medical literature for evidence-based, but as-yet unimplemented protocols, some more than a decade old. Intermountain urologists perform 65,000 prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests per year. Taken in isolation, a PSA measurement of 3.0 wouldn't seem to indicate a need to do a biopsy. But when clinicians risk-stratify, considering factors such as race and age, risk of an aggressive prostate cancer can rise to where a biopsy is definitely in order.
"There's only one other integrated healthcare system in the United States who's interested in incorporating that same logic," Bishoff says. "That is something that [other] healthcare systems could do."
Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.