People who are empowered to make change can have a tremendous impact on their own lives as well as on the lives of the people around them. We’re beginning to see that type of positive impact in the health care industry, and some of that work was presented to us last week.
Last Tuesday, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation (@OCABR on Twitter) sponsored a dynamic conference here in Worcester on the UMass Medical School campus. “Empowering Healthcare Consumers: A Community Conversation,” brought together consumers and their advocates, business representatives, regulators, insurers, and health care leaders from around the state to discuss ways to educate consumers about their choices and increase transparency around cost information.
Our UMass Memorial Medical Center president, Patrick Muldoon, was part of a fascinating panel discussion, and Monica Lowell, vice president of community relations, served as lead facilitator for an audience group exercise on decision making.
Massachusetts insurers are required to provide consumers accurate price information for various medical procedures. All of us in the health care industry believe we need to be more transparent in presenting the work that we do, but this is a new concept for us. As discussed by the conference panel, “buying health care is not like buying a TV.” Nonetheless, the law requires us to work with the insurance companies to provide the best estimates for our services that we can reasonably determine. Staffers from OCABR did some “secret shopping” for health care services and presented this video of their results at the conference:
What strikes me about this process is what’s missing from the equation. Yes, the consumer is more empowered by having access to this cost information, but we as providers of health care also have a great opportunity to make the changes that better align us with insurers’ and consumers’ expectations. I feel strongly that each of you has the power to make your jobs and your departments more cost efficient. Idea boards across our system are flourishing — your ideas about how we can make things work better for our patients and each other are put into action by the dozens each week. Keep me posted on how you’re doing with this…remember, it is within your power to make positive change!
I’m always excited to visit with all of you. I had the opportunity to spend some time at Nashaway Pediatrics and at Sterling Family Medicine (where they kept me honest and made sure to give me my annual flu shot!) Watching you all connecting with patients and with each other, and witnessing firsthand the incredible care you provide is a tremendous source of pride for me.
Keep up the good work and continue taking care of yourselves, each other and our patients.