Journal of the San Juan Islands


Without context, touting numbers smacks of self-promotion | Letters

February 10, 2014 · 6:19 PM

This is a commentary regarding the recent publication of a list recently supplied by PIMC to the public.

It is not in any way a comment on care and should be understood that the scope of the commentary is intentionally narrow. It is a reminder to all that data and numbers are not information: they need context and analysis. The list needs careful drill down to be understood:

Were the visits, tests, and procedures appropriate or not? Were the costs of those tests within accepted norms?

Was the quality of care analyzed or evaluated by disinterested reviewers? Was customer-service review sought and examined objectively? Were anecdotal reports (good or bad) examined for trends?

Was the locus of care (clinic vs. ER) appropriate or was there channeling?

Was the pattern clinic encounters commensurate with accepted standards for both access and commensurate with the cost of providing those services? Were the charges for services appropriate and competitive? Was communication with non-PIMC physicians timely and professional?

Until there are answers for my little questions (which always will lead to more little questions), there is no way—positively or negatively—to assess the community’s investment and the numbers will remain little more than advertising and self-promotion.

Note that this is a personal observation and does not represent the views of anyone else.

Mark Fishaut M.D./San Juan Island


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