Why transparency is not enough

Many people are surprised to learn that in healthcare, there’s little correlation between cost and quality. Prices for medical services vary wildly—even for the same procedure, in the same area, within the same network. Outcomes differ just as much, with no correlation to price. The only way to know whether you’re getting high-quality care at a reasonable price is to see the data. Now, that’s transparency.

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When there was no transparency, transparency solutions seemed like the cure for all our healthcare woes. Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research points out, “You start with transparency, which is the low-hanging fruit, by helping employees understand cost and quality so they can make better decisions.”

But organizations trying to manage their entire healthcare ecosystem – costs, benefit design, program engagement and impact, employee health and productivity, and third-party vendors – need more than transparency. The key takeaway? Transparency is necessary but not sufficient.

All of these aspects and their associated pain points have plagued employers for years. Taken together, they describe the focus of Enterprise Healthcare Management (EHM). Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst of Constellation Research, defines EHM as a “new category of software that helps organizations select, deploy, manage, and influence the outcomes of their healthcare investments to align with business goals.”

EHM includes transparency at its core, but it’s only one piece of a much broader solution. Maeve O’Meara, vice president of product management at Castlight, has seen firsthand how the desire for transparency has evolved. “As Castlight has grown, so have the needs of our customers,” she explains. “What started as a push for transparency has grown into the need for a broader solution. Companies are asking for technology that addresses benefit program engagement, incentives, partners and analytics, all within one platform.”

The Castlight platform integrates transparency with these other dimensions of EHM. Using the power of Big Data, Castlight delivers actionable insights about the healthcare needs of an organization’s employees, going beyond spending and utilization data. “We also think it’s important for companies to understand what their employees are searching for, what they care about, what decisions they are about to make. We call that ‘mindshare data’,” O’Meara continues. “With mindshare data, organizations can better understand what employees want and need, better ensuring that employees take full advantage of their benefits and are satisfied with them.”

Just as supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software radically streamlined the business operations of large organizations, EHM will do the same for healthcare.

Now is the time to cross the threshold and learn more on how to go beyond transparency!