This is a guest post by Jeff Gold, Solutions Architect at Kyruus
As the costs of health care continue to rise, demand for transparency and better oversight of physician interactions with industry is mounting. Transparent Innovations has closely covered progress on the Sunshine Act and recently, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley challenged the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the award of a research grant to a physician who had previously been identified for failing to disclose an industry relationship while working on a federal study. As we’ve reported before, institutions applying for or receiving NIH funding must be in compliance with more stringent financial conflict of interest requirements no later than August 24, 2012.
For institutions, complying with new regulations is costly. According to Doctor Kristy Weber, chair of the Council on Research and Quality at Johns Hopkins, lowering the NIH monetary thresholds from $10K to $5K, “will greatly increase paperwork for many individuals and institutions.” There certainly isn’t a shortage of viewpoints on the Sunshine Act either. Proponents say any transparency is a good thing, regardless of cost while others believe the high price of compliance outweighs the usefulness of the data.
The Trade Off Between Productivity and Transparency
Using a traditional manual process, an institution naturally faces a trade-off between productivity and transparency. Why? Because the most productive environment is one where no time is spent on administrative tasks. That’s obviously not possible in this environment of increased transparency. Similar to a zero-sum game, the more time spent of transparency, the lower the productivity as shown in the graph below.
There is a better way
Complying with increased transparency and disclosure requirements while mitigating costs is possible with better technology. We know that stakeholders in the healthcare system will need to manage these relationships to allow for high productivity and high transparency. In the end, physicians and industry will need to work together to collaborate and preserve innovation. With technology, we can achieve both. We can shift the curve.
There has never been a better time for information technology to address these problems. Software development as a practice has been maturing and three changes offer reason for optimism.
First is the importance of user experience. Google, Apple and other companies have raised expectations. Design advice from experts like Steve Krugg and Jakob Nielsen is being embraced. Programmers are better equipped to eliminate the tedious parts of data entry and to provide intuitive applications that are easy to use.
Second, Big Data technology is breaking down previous silos and allowing better business insight than previously possible. Analytics provide meaningful results and business users are able to continuously refine results until the desired outcome is reached.
Third, companies that deliver software are more nimble and customer focused than ever. Large, inflexible corporations have given way to small, vibrant companies that delight their customers.
There will always be obstacles to adoption in a market as complex as health care. Many ideas and companies that seem promising will fail. But some may make health care more transparent without compromising its ability to learn from industry and grow. At Kyruus, we hope to be part of that.