Yet the version of reform presented by Porter and Teisberg remains the most hopeful of all possibilities. Much depends on how far providers allow transparency to go, and that may depend on how emphatically consumers demand it. Once it becomes common for health-care providers to post actual prices and actual results in standardized ways that produce comparable data, it is hard to see how consumers, insurance companies, and referring physicians would ever choose low quality at high prices, as they do today. Real transparency will mean real competition, and real competition, in every other industry, has benefited the consumer. One does not have to be an oblivious optimist to imagine health care 10 to 15 years from now being available to all and offering substantially higher quality at significantly lower cost than it does today. This is the magic, and even the inevitable result, of competing on value.
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Joe Flower ([email protected]) writes on management and medical issues, and has long been a contributing editor and columnist at the industry publications Healthcare Forum Journal, Hospitals and Health Networks Online, and Physician Executive.
David Knott ([email protected]) is a senior vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton based in New York City. He works with health services clients on corporate and business unit strategies and transformation programs.