The Institute of Medicine: "Improve Transparency"

By Jill Arnold

The Institute of Medicine published a report on September 6, 2012 titled “Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America.”

The press release for the consensus report summarizes IOM's vision for communication and cooperation between patients, providers and institutions.

Although engaging patients and their families in care decisions and management of their conditions leads to better outcomes and can reduce costs, such participation remains limited, the committee found.  To facilitate these interactions, health care organizations should embrace new tools to gather and assess patients' perspectives and use the information to improve delivery of care.  Health care product developers should create tools that assist people in managing their health and communicating with their providers.

Increased transparency about the costs and outcomes of care also boosts opportunities to learn and improve and should be a hallmark of institutions' organizational cultures, the committee said.  Linking providers' performance to patient outcomes and measuring performance against internal and external benchmarks allows organizations to enhance their quality and become better stewards of limited resources, the report says.  In addition, managers should ensure that their institutions foster teamwork, staff empowerment, and open communication.

The need for improving transparency and making information about health care options available to consumer online is highlighted in the supplemental infographic. [cropped]