For all the hoopla over transparency (and we've been advocating greater transparency in health care for a long, long time), the private sector seems to be ahead of the public. We see that in carrier tools like Aetna's Navigator, for example, and with a growing number of physicians' offices which share their pricing information with patients. True, Medicare has been working on this issue, and kudos to that agency for acknowleding transparency's value.
Unfortunately, our Neighbors to the North© aren't necessarily "true believers," and since the gummint-run system is the only game in town, that's a problem. For example, the Providence of Alberta seems reluctant to share data that some might consider critical to their own care and well-being:
"One Alberta hospital has an injury rate for newborns more than four times the provincial average. Patients in another Alberta hospital are five times as likely to pick up an infection following medical care, while patients at yet another hospital are more than twice as likely to experience bed sores ... But the report is unable to provide the names of specific hospitals because Alberta Health Services refused to release hospital names."
If one needs inpatient care, it might be nice to know which facility to skip to avoid bed sores. If one expects a lengthy recovery, it might be helpful to know which one to pass on to avoid an increased risk of infection. There may, in fact, be good reasons why a particular facility has more cases of a given condition, based on its focus (heart care, oncology, etc). But absent that information, no one really knows for sure.
As we rush headlong toward a similar system, it may be worth asking whether that's something we really want.
[Hat Tip: Leah Costello]