Awareness of unnecessary costs
Few people realise that the prices they are paying for health care goods and services, is over inflated.
One third of western health budgets is estimated to be wasted on unnecessary tests and treatments. In Australia this amounts to 50 billion dollars (AUS) wasted every year. In America that amounts to 1.2 trillion dollars (USA) wasted every year.
The government and private tendering of contracts for medical goods and services is conducted away from public scrutiny. It is also unduly influenced by political lobbyists employed by multi national corporations. 75% of political lobbyists in America are employed by the health industry.
The funding for health services is based on a ‘fee for service’ model not an ‘outcomes based’ model. The equivalent would be trying to buy a car by purchasing each individual nut, wheel and electrical circuit, without knowing if some or any of the particular parts were high quality or even necessary. Car prices are kept down because buyers know how the end product fits together, and can easily compare the prices and quality of all cars available. By comparison, health prices are uncontrolled because no one knows the relevance of what they are buying or how is compares to other products.
And finally, the cheapest way to manage health, using General Medical Practitioners and community services is under funded. The most expensive way to treat people, in hospitals, with lots of medical specialists, tests and treatments that may not be necessary, is over funded.
A new breed of health services, called Health Startups has developed in the past 20 years. They use modern technology, are consumer-focused and often provide higher quality services for a lower price. These Health Startups are currently being excluded by traditional health market places.
The first mission of Wikihospitals is to connect both patients and health professionals with this new breed of services, called Health Startups.
Awareness of avoidable errors
Few people who embark on medical treatments realise how high their risk of an error is.
Recent studies suggested that hospital errors are now the third highest cause of preventable death. A number of factors are involved.
- A rising tide of invasive tests and treatments being routinely given to elderly, frail people. Doctors and and hospitals are afraid of the cost and distress of medical litigation. Industry lobbyists are able to use the media and health charity groups to promote the ‘more is better’ message.
- Hospital acquired infections related to lack of close scrutiny of hand washing.
- Medication mix ups. Paper drug charts are often inaccurate. Automated drug charts often have no error monitoring software. There is no centralised information about what medications people are actually buying and using.
- Unacceptable variations in practice. Different treatments are being given to different patient, at different hospitals, with exactly the same condition. The result can be one patient does well, the other becomes ill, or the disease is not treated.
Unlike the banking industry, there is no driver to improve customer service in health care. There is no competition for patients. There is no public debate about costs and quality. Health care is so over regulated that doctors cannot advertise their services and patients cannot rate them.
Once again, Health Startups offer more transparency about problems and better tools to fix them.
The second mission of Wikihospitals is to expose the high level of unnecessary errors and give both patients and health professionals the tools to overcome them.
Creating a new market place
The problems in the health industry exist, in essence, because the seller and the buyer can’t connect directly, in a normal commercial transaction. Instead, an autocratic body, (not unlike the Catholic Church of Middle Ages) conducts business deals between seller and buyer in secret. No debate is allowed about tendering processed, commercial contracts, or middle men fees. Both the buyer and seller are rendered passive, without a voice and powerless to choose.
Patients can’t buy direct. All their health goods and services are bought for them, then dished out as governments or private insurers see fit. Patients are not allowed any input on the cost, quality or suitability of their health goods and services.
Doctors and other health professionals can’t sell direct. Their services are purchase only by third parties, governments or private insurers. They are not allowed to advertise their services, discuss their costs, display their quality or promote their suitability for individual patients.
This is completely different to all other commercial market places. You can shop around for a car, a house or an education. But you have absolutely no choice over the cost or quality of your health goods and services.
The third mission of Wikihospitals is that both buyer and seller in the health marketplace have access to freely trade with each other. This (and only this) system will allow Health Startups into the market place. It will advantage health services that are cheaper, more accurate, that use modern technology and are aligned with the principles of customer service.
This is why Wikihospitals is an on-line directory of Health Startups. It promotes modern health services to who ever needs them and allows ratings and feedback.