Empowering the Consumer Through Big Data with Cathie Markow

cathie markowCathie Markow, the Clinical Quality Senior Director at Castlight Health, will follow up Tuesday’s successful kick off of Health 2.0 EDU’s summer webseries, “Big Data, Big Business,” at 3:00PM PST Tuesday the 16th.  This time around, Cathie will approach the topic through the lens of the consumer, and how big data is being used to improve the health care system for consumers today:

Cathie: Consumers are hungry for information to help them make better health care decisions.  Big data enables us to provide price and quality information about doctors and hospitals to help consumers find the best resource for the care they need.  This same data can be used to help providers improve the care they provide, use of the information by consumers helps incentivize providers to pay attention.

So how exactly do you get consumers to become more engaged in their own health care and the health care system?

Cathie: It takes multiple levers to get consumers more engaged.  At the core is good communications so that they know about the services and tools available to them when they need them.  Incentives, whether high deductible health plans, reference-based pricing or rewards for doing the right things, all help to engage consumers in making better decisions.

This appears to be a rising trend. Which factors seem to have the largest influence on consumerism in healthcare?

Cathie: Clearly it’s the continued escalation of the cost of care that is driving more of the cost of care to be shared with consumers.  Employers have tried a multitude of tactics to “bend the cost curve” and moderate the percent of their cost spent on health care with minimal effect.  The result is the significant rise in high deductible health plans that not only have consumers sharing more of the cost of care but force them to pay attention to the significant variation in the costs and quality of care within the same geographies for the same services.

Your work at Castlight Health focuses on improving the transparency of the healthcare system. What do you see as the largest obstacle in achieving‬ transparency in health care? ‬

Cathie: The biggest challenges we face are the quality of the source data and the complexity of health care relationships.  Despite efforts to standardize health care data, there remains much work to be done to facilitate full use of health care data especially as we move to greater demands for clinical data.   The relationships between providers and payers can [also] be very complex, as we used to say, “If you see one health plan, you’ve seen one health plan.”

Finally, what are you most excited about in regard to your upcoming Learn It Live class with Health 2.0?

Cathie: I’m most excited about the opportunity to engage more of the smart people in the world of health care IT in the challenge of providing consumers with information that will help us all to better manage health care for ourselves and families.


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