The Colorado All Payer Claims Database is a brilliant tool: a database that shows the side-by-side average cost of health procedures at different hospitals, and lets consumers (i.e. patients) become educated on the cost of their care and make choices based on price.
It’s like Travelocity applied to health care, in some ways, and can help spur competition, more informed patients and ultimately, lower health care costs. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
As we learned recently, at the Colorado Rural Health Forum, from Jonathan Mathieu, director of Research and Data from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC), which is the company creating the database, it’s a useful tool. But it only scratches the surface of the vast data needed to make a true impact on overall health costs.
Rural Health Care Data Gaps
One hurdle to collecting and analyzing the data is that many of Colorado’s rural health care providers, including hospitals and clinics, simply do not have sizable-enough samples and data to be valid. For example, if a patient wanted to determine the average cost of delivering a baby in Denver, their database has extensive information due to the thousands of babies that are born in Denver each year. Yet, if someone wanted that same information in the San Luis Valley, she’d be out of luck – there simply isn’t a data set for that community.
Mathieu was very clear that he and his team are working diligently to tackle the challenges of collecting data from rural communities, but the task is formidable.
In this changing health care landscape, as we endeavor to understand how we can make positive change, it’s clear that we need a community-by-community based approach. No two hospitals collect information exactly the same, deliver care exactly the same way, nor have the exact same financial make-up.
The All Claims Payer Database is a critical tool that can help Colorado bring its health care costs down. As the state continues to support this important project, we urge everyone to continue to consider the needs and complexities brought on by rural health care and invest resources into ensuring their realities are reflected in that database.