March 11, 2015

By Saurabh Sinha, Founder & CEO

This year, I am fortunate to be participating in the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows initiative. For the next few months, my classmates and I will participate in eight sessions designed to explore solutions that meet the challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system.

During our first session, we learned some fascinating statistics about the American healthcare industry. Many of the facts we discussed were “new” news even to my classmates, who have spent many years in healthcare. It made me reconsider something that I think is a significant issue for healthcare in our country: how important it is for health policy makers to have access to comprehensive, unbiased fact sources that support informed decision-making.

Allow me to illustrate. I could tell you that according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund, the United States ranks dead last behind 10 0ther countries studied on healthcare performance.

But here’s what I’m not telling you. When you look closer at the same report, although the U.S. has the costliest healthcare and ranks last in efficiency, equity and healthy lives, it ranks third in effective care and fourth in patient-centered care.

I didn’t provide full context. Rather, I isolated a single fact to support the argument I wanted to make.

I could also tell you that according to a study by the Urban Institute, the United States has the highest survival rates for certain cancers, like colon, lung, breast and prostate. But on the other hand, the U.S. fell below average on adult asthma care and childhood flu and measles vaccinations.

Selecting only certain facts, without providing full context, does not accurately represent all the information that is available.

Now, I might not be intentionally manipulating the facts or attempting to mislead anyone. But the point is, rarely – if ever – are we provided a full-picture, comprehensive representation of the facts, yet we come to conclusions with the information we do have.

Without facts everyone can agree on, it makes it difficult for our policy makers and legislators to have a discussion about the real problems facing our industry. If legislators aren’t receiving all the same facts, on what basis are they passing legislation?

This question reinforces the importance of unbiased, bipartisan fact sources to inform our representatives in Washington so they can attempt to come to real consensus and solve the problems before us.

What are some sources you use? Where do you get your most trusted information about healthcare? Let us know in the comments below.

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