ACPE Poll: Physician Leaders Support Greater Transparency in Health Care

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Most believe the trend toward openness strengthens trust and deters fraud

A majority of physician leaders believe the move toward greater transparency in health care will improve the relationship between patients and doctors, according to a new poll conducted by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE).

The results show 54 percent of participants believe increasing transparency will improve the physician-patient relationship while 22 percent think it will be damaged. An additional 24 percent say transparency won’t have any effect on the relationship.

The trend toward greater transparency in health care has been gaining momentum in recent months.

Noteworthy developments include:

  • Pricing for health care services is becoming more transparent in many states.
  • Medicare reimbursement payments to doctors are now public.
  • Fraud and abuse claim results are made public.
  • And the Sunshine Act, which is about to take effect, means financial transactions among drug companies, medical device firms and physicians will become known to the public.

The poll was sent electronically to ACPE’s 11,000 members and received 630 responses. Participants were also invited to add their comments on the issue, which some elected to do anonymously.

Those who voted with the majority said they believe greater transparency will foster a better sense of trust between doctors and the patients they treat.

“Transparency isn't always the easiest thing to do, but certainly the right thing to do,” wrote William Casperson, MD, FACS, CPE, FACPE. “Decades of opacity have led to suspicion and distrust towards our medical system. It will require consistent transparency over a long period of time to recover.”

Others said transparency was an important first step to cutting costs in health care by helping to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.

“The health care industry is bleeding the country dry,” wrote Bruce Bender, MD, MS, FACPE. “If costs are to be reduced by a third, we need to know where the real corruption and waste lie, and physicians need to be at the forefront of fixing it. The more we resist the more we are part of the problem.”

Those who disagreed said they were concerned the data may be taken out of context. The results could be misleading and unfairly portray physicians in a negative light.

“I agree in principle but the data is not very accurate, easy to game and in many cases irrelevant,” wrote one respondent, who did not give a name. “Transparency at this point in time may do more harm than good.”

“Transparency will help the patient, but I worry it will erode the personal nature of the doctor-patient relationship and make doctors even more of a commodity than ever,” added Alex Heard, MD.

Transparency is clearly an important issue within the physician community and the poll results reflect the polarizing nature of the topic, said Peter Angood, MD, FRCS(C), FACS, FCCM, the president and CEO of ACPE.

“No matter what your opinion may be, the trend toward greater transparency is continuing to gain momentum,” said Angood. “As physician leaders, we need to get involved to help ensure the quality of the data is high and the public receives the necessary information to make informed decisions.”

Visit here to review the poll results.

Visit here to read the comments.

About ACPE

ACPE is the nation's largest health care organization for physician leaders. Since its founding in 1975, the primary focus of the College is providing superior leadership and management skills to physicians of all types and encouraging them to assume more active leadership roles in the health care industry. In addition to training more than 100,000 physicians, the organization has grown to more than 11,000 members, including chief executive officers, chief medical officers, vice presidents of medical affairs, medical directors and other physician leaders from more than 45 different countries. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @ACPE.

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Carrie Johnson
American College of Physician Executives
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