A new website launched last month. I’m not involved with the organization, but I almost wish I were, because what I’m seeing is what I hope we’ll see everywhere, for every medical need.
The site is InquireHealthcare.org, a project of the non-profit Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3). It’s the first time I’ve seen a new term that I love: “consumer-patients.”
(Some activated consumers hate the term “patient” and some activated patients hate the term “consumers.” My own views are in the glossary of Let Patients Help. Here I want focus on what you get when you mix the best of both – because that’s what they’re after on this site.)
It’s got three things I’ve never seen combined: shopping tools, self-assessment tools, and community activist tools. How’s that for a toolbox to create change? (Again, I wish I were bragging about my own work, but I never heard of them until they launched.) Specifically:
Click to visit that page – it has links to many independent sites with data on prices and quality, from Leapfrog Group to HealthcareBlueBook to ClearHealthCosts to WhyNotTheBest and more. (Note that this site doesn’t try to own the data – they collect it so consumers can use it.)
Note also that the site’s “Check Your State” link has a map of the states with grades A-F for each state on how well they publish data on prices and about provider quality. (This page seems to be missing a legend: “C/A” means the state gets a C for publishing prices and an A for publishing quality info.)
If your state is full of F’s, you might want to bitch at your government! Without good information, how can the best docs and hospitals be rewarded?? You can bet it’s not the best who are resisting publishing the facts. (More on fighting back in a moment.)
Any improvement efforts starts with understanding where you’re at. This page has three separate resources:
- Find Your Engagement Level: A quick, decent self-assessment test: how activated and engaged are you? (I scored 54 out of 60; it detected that I’m by no means perfect, and the answers point to where I can improve.)
- Review State Scorecards: Some eye-opening detail on the grades behind the state map.
- Be an Engaged Patient: Of course I love this one – it’s analogous to the Tip Sheets at the start of Let Patients Help, with simple specific actions you can take as an activated voice: “Never be afraid to ask questions,” “Get costs up front,” etc.
So now we have shopping tools, then at a deeper level more information and how to assess your own status (and your state’s status). Then, advice on how to act more empowered if you want.
Which leads naturally to …
Regular readers know that I’m not much of a “fight” person. But as time goes by and the movement matures, I see more and more people getting tired of the establishment talking about fewer deaths and lower costs, but with too little change. Now that we know there are over 1,000 accidental hospital deaths every day, tolerance for non-improvement is shrinking.
If you’re going into a hospital – or someone you know is – you darn well should know that in addition to the miracles, there are risks. And you should darn well know whether the hospital you’ll choose is in the group that’s improving or the group that’s saying “Look, we’re doing the best we can. Don’t ask questions.” And you may want to join those who are actively working for improvement. Too often that does mean “fighting” – against resistance.
The links on this page:
- Be an Advocate for Change – an “Inquire Ambassador” program, to basically help you become a community organizer.
- Get Mad
- Tell Your Story
- Choose Your Battle
- Contact Congress
- Donate Now
I love this line: “We can change our country, but it starts on your street.”
So, how about that?? A continuous scale of help, from “here are some shopper tools” through “How to up your game” to “Changing the world, government-style.” If I’d helped create this I’d be darned proud.
Why it matters:
To fix this we need a healthy, functioning health market with informed and activated buyers. That rewards the best producers, because in a functioning market, people …
- know they have choices
- know the differences
- act to get what they want.
That can’t happen when people don’t know. See the maps above, and compare that with this chart.
Outside of healthcare I’m both a business person and a consumer. I think for myself, I know what matters to me, I gather what info I can, and I act. I don’t expect anyone – government or other – to coddle me. I stick up for myself, and I love it when great vendors kick butt in any market. I love to see excellence rewarded.
And I hate it when anything stands in the way of normal market dynamics. I hate it when someone corners a market; I hate it when someone steals an invention; I hate it when someone tries to hide information about an improvement consumers want.
“Consumer-patients”: what a terrific new term. The only thing remaining for my full-throated endorsement is to see how this all plays out in ordinary people’s hands. So I’m eager to see the stories they’ll collect of cases that went differently.
Note: tools don’t make you an expert – they just enable your work. And work it is, so don’t expect an instant fix.
If you use the site, I’d welcome your stories here.