The Way to Improved Patient Safety, Reduced Costs Is Transparency, Report Finds

Transparency throughout the healthcare system could produce safer care, better outcomes, and reduced costs of care, according to a new report from the National Patient Safety Foundation's Lucian Leape Institute.

Transparency throughout the healthcare system could produce safer care, better outcomes, and more trust among involved parties, according to a new report from the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute.

The Shining a Light: Safer Health Care Through Transparency report addresses 4 domains where the open exchange of information is necessary to improve safety and provides more than 3 dozen recommendations for clinicians, healthcare executives, and policy makers. These recommendations address issues such as disclosure of conflicts of interest, shared decision making with patients, and development of core competencies for communicating medical errors and quality measures to various other stakeholders.

“We hope this report will help convince people that transparency is not only the right thing to do, but that it will lead to improved outcomes, fewer errors, more satisfied patients, and reduced costs of care,” Robert M. Wachter, MD, associate chair of the department of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement.

Dr Wachter and Gary Kaplan, MD, FACMPE, chief executive officer, Virginia Mason Health System, served as co-chairs for this project. Both are members of the Lucian Leape Institute.

The 4 domains of transparency that the report focused on were:

  • Transparency between clinicians and patients—illustrated by disclosure after medical errors
  • Transparency among clinicians themselves—illustrated by peer review and other mechanisms to share information within health care delivery organizations
  • Transparency of health care organizations with one another—illustrated by regional or national collaboratives
  • Transparency of both clinicians and organizations with the public—illustrated by public reporting of quality and safety data

“Transparency has been largely overlooked as a patient safety tool, in part because it requires a foundation of a safety culture and strong organizational leadership,” Gary Kaplan, MD, FACMPE, chief executive officer, Virginia Mason Health System, said. “The barriers are not necessarily easy to overcome, but we will never truly achieve safe patient care without improvements in transparency in each of the domains we cite.”