Thursday, October 25, 2007

Massachusetts Promotes Consumer-Driven Health Care on the Web

Comparison shopping, it's not just for the grocery store anymore! In Massachusetts a new website is being unveiled today (with a barrage of advertising) that provides consumer resources for making informed health care decisions.

The Boston Business Journal takes a look at this new online resource and the non-profit organization that launched it:

The non-profit Partnership for Healthcare Excellence on Thursday began an advertising campaign and is now actively promoting its Web site -- -- which links consumers to various sources for care and cost data.

"We want to build an 'on ramp' for consumer engagement in health care,'" Jim Conway, Partnership chairman, said in a statement. He's also the senior vice president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a local think tank and Partnership member.

The Partnership initiative is one of many efforts to promote the "consumer-driven" health care movement, which would give consumers a greater voice in their health care choices in an effort to manage costs more efficiently. Such efforts have increased in recent years because health care costs have continued to rise at double-digit levels.

WBUR 90.9 FM, a Boston based public radio station, had Mr. Conway write a guest column for their website this morning. Here is a small sampling from it:

This is a new non-profit that includes more than 40 organizations - including the Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council, consumer associations, disease and advocacy organizations, doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurers, business groups, and labor....

By arming consumers with useful information such as how to take medications safely, choose a doctor or hospital, and prepare for doctor and hospital visits -- the Partnership gives them tools to improve the quality of their care. It will also be encouraging consumers to advocate for overall system change -- like supporting the wider use of e-prescribing and the rapid introduction of tools to help consumers manage their medications.

We all know the sad litany of statistics about medical errors. We also know that one of the strongest weapons we have in the fight for quality is the informed, empowered and engaged patient. Today, patients have a new ally in the fight for quality -- The Partnership for Healthcare Excellence.

It will be very interesting watching this develop over time. Informing prospective patients of the variations in health care quality they will face, before having to face them, could well be a good tool for helping market forces drive down health care costs. Only time will tell.

SOURCE: "Mass. Web Site to Promote Consumer-Driven Health Care" 10/25/07
SOURCE: "A New Ally for Patients -- The Partnership for Healthcare Excellence" 10/25/07
photo courtesy of George Williams, created for the "Health Care Reform Now!" Blog

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