Accountability is a must and transparency is a virtue. I have never come across anyone in my life who would disagree with this statement. As a matter of fact, recently there have been many discussions about the importance of transparency, especially in healthcare.
A recent topic deals with the transparency of hospital rates for the patient which holds true promise and takes a step towards the right direction. After all, what is transparency good for if it does not end to end and what is accountability good for if it doesn’t bring appropriate transparency- or what good is both accountability and transparency if they are not implemented across the board! Buzzwords and piecemeal approach only do good as far as offering false promises to the patients, physicians, healthcare providers, and all the stakeholders.
The Pitch Dark Tunnel of Healthcare
Let’s look at the healthcare process as a dark tunnel connecting the pharmaceutical industry and the patient, the insurance industry and the patient and all other physicians, healthcare providers, stakeholders and every business in between.
When we talk about transparency of prices related to clinics and hospitals, all we end up doing is making one part of the tunnel visible. What we get to see is only one part of the puzzle, while the lights are shut off in other parts of the tunnel. But what good does it bring to us? How can this at all be useful?
Patients are already aware that the cost of healthcare borne by them is very high- in fact, they know that these prices are over-inflated to account for profit margin. Some of them are also aware of the middlemen and other entities that interrupt the seamless delivery of healthcare by trying to extract as much as possible from the patient. An on top of everything, also count in corruption and politics somewhere in the long dark tunnel!
But what is anyone doing about it? What is the government’s role in bringing transparency to the tunnel? How will it turn out to be useful for the consumer?
Transparency Eludes the Healthcare System
Anytime a policy is passed, it is supposed to address a problem and come up with a solution based on the findings. A correct plan of action must be implemented accurately based on reevaluation and focus on transparency.
We can bring transparency only through a long chain of the process from the initial stage to the end and make it more precise with a long trail of the audit. At this point, it is not a question if the prices are high, or if the patient is going to pay for it!
The prices can also differ- what it would have cost them out of the pocket versus what it costs them through deductibles and co-pays relying on their house and assets. Will we ever know what would have been the exact retail price if it was purchased directly from the manufacturer?
In the end, patients will have to agree to the high prices when they are sick enough, without any choice but to pay up. All they can do is voice their grievances to legislators, who only hold up the reflection of what they already know. You also have to consider the middleman who might be up to something to protect himself and his interests.
Everything that we see and hear is an empty, hypocritical approach to major issues that is being presented to patients through a small hole in the wall of a dark room. They are always left in the dark with transparency being just a shining tunnel vision in the path of a hospital. The vision even lacks ground without a scientific approach to problem-solving and cannot come up with a solution.
It is nothing more than a political approach to a widely known corrupted healthcare issue- a problem that has defects in every single process right from the beginning to the end. All of these are the consequences of piecemeal policies based on tunnel vision which have been implemented with full knowledge of what goes on inside the woods!
All we have been doing is passing mandates after mandates which create loopholes after loopholes to be exploited by third-party groups over and over. We have made the healthcare system like a strainer draining money on every step along the path leaving nothing for the patient in the end.
It’s Time for Change
The time has come for patients to take control of their healthcare system and demand transparency on all aspects from the start to the end. It’s the time to unleash free market and competition so that quality products can be delivered to patients devoid of monopoly and corporate price control. We have to empower the physicians and healthcare providers so that they can deliver personalized healthcare where the quality of care is defined by sheer professional service instead of middlemen and biased corporate monopoly.
The time is ideal to implement a system which will make healthcare increasingly accessible to the patient and physician in a clinic visit. The moment is ripe to create healthcare that traverses beyond geographic and socioeconomic boundaries. The government must do what it is supposed to do- ensure a healthcare system that can function without corruption and monopoly. There should be 100 percent transparency, along with full accountability at every level and stage.
A free market will enable healthcare entities to function at their optimum level, doing their best without having to deal with micromanagement of the government which is anyway not a fair deal as it is out of their expertise. We need to get rid of kickback practices at every level and prevent corporatism while respecting and protecting patient, physician and healthcare provider rights.