Transparent health care pricing best value for workers

by John Torinus ,  JS Online | 2008-09-06

Wausau - We consumers of health care have been waiting a long time for hospitals and doctors to start really competing on their quality of care.

We employers have been derelict in buying health care for our employees based on discounted prices without much regard for quality. That's a class-action apology.

But the opacity on quality is changing. I traveled to the Aspirus Heart and Vascular Institute in Wausau to get a firsthand look at what is billed as "the No. 1 heart program in Wisconsin" and among the top 5% in the world.

To find the best value for our co-workers and their families, Serigraph has been looking at medical tourism in places such as Thailand, India and Ireland. We haven't activated that international program yet, but we are close to steering to high-value providers in Wisconsin and the Midwest.

Aspirus will be one provider where we offer incentives to co-workers who make the three-hour drive to Wausau for elective heart treatments.

AdvertisementThe problem in the past has been the sparse data and metrics on quality for hospitals, clinics and doctors. Providers are subject to audit but seldom release that information to outsiders. One positive development is that Medicare puts out an increasing amount of data on the population it serves.

Better yet, because of its positive outcomes, Aspirus has made the decision to publish its metrics. Its main source is the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, or STS, which has been tracking cardiac surgical programs since the 1970s. It has a database on 765 reporting programs, about three-quarters of those in the country. It adjusts for severity in the cases.


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