Transparency is key for hospitals, doctor says

Jul 2, 2013

A doctor who will be speaking at the Renaissance Weekend in Jackson this week says transparency at hospitals can lead to better healthcare for patients. Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and author of Unaccountable, a book about hospital transparency, says the lack of transparency at many hospitals stems from both data and historical attitudes. 

“There are no villains in the game but historically we have not done a great job being transparent about the delivery of medical care. And this comes from the Victorian era. When President Garfield was sick the doctors disclosed more to the press than they did to his family or himself,” says Makary.

Makary says transparency efforts should include everything from bedside disclosures to patients, releases about risks and options of surgical procedures, and hospital performance in a community. 

“We know historically when information is transparent that hospitals tend to improve. That is with any industry when metrics of performance are visible to the consumers there is a broad effect where the tide raises all boats and there’s widespread improvement,” he says.

Makary says the Affordable Care Act requires more transparency from doctors about conflicts of interests but he says the ACA doesn’t go far enough with transparency in other areas. He adds that Wyoming has additional, unique challenges due to its small population and rural population.