Elorm Damalie

Public Reporting of Healthcare Services: How information influences consumer’s choices. A roadmap for Finland

I am Elorm Damalie, a doctoral student in healthcare information systems in Turku School of Economics of the University of Turku. I moved to Finland from Ghana to pursue my tertiary education. I started my bachelor’s degree studies in information technology and moved into information systems for my master’s degree. During my studies in information systems, I developed a strong interest in healthcare information systems.

Have you ever considered patients as consumers? If only patients were treated as consumers, how will the quality and delivery of healthcare services be? After personal experiences and accounts of close friends, I started to rethink about the healthcare system in Finland. Are there platforms in Finland that create and share comparative information of quality and performance of the various healthcare services providers in Finland with consumers? Do these platforms enable them to make informed choices in terms of healthcare services? This will require the availability of information to consumers and the use of information by consumers. We now live in an information driven society and this should reflect in the healthcare sector.

Public reporting is comparative information, publicly available or available to a broad audience free of charge or at a nominal cost, about a health care structure, process, or outcome at any provider level (individual clinician, group, or organizations [e.g., hospitals, nursing facilities]) or at the health plan level.

The use of information in making decisions is prevalent in our society today. It is becoming increasingly common for information about the performance of healthcare service providers and professionals released to the public. The need  for  a  good  public  reporting  system  in  the  health  market  digital  ecosystem  is  necessary to achieve the goals of releasing comparative information to consumers of healthcare  services.

Public reporting systems are still new in many countries. Depending on the country, it is still in a developing stage. Currently there are few countries that have implemented public reporting systems. UK and US are the early adopters of public reporting systems in health care. High-income European countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Netherlands offer public reporting platforms. These are the few countries with working public reporting systems in health and social care.

Public reporting is not a very well known term in Finland and there is no established Finnish word or phrase for the concept. This is leads questions such as what is the status of public reporting in Finland, what are the occurrences and forms of Public Reporting in Finland?

My doctoral studies addresses these underlying questions about the state of public reporting systems in Finland. The purpose of this study is that consumers have access to those factors that are made available through public reporting systems to have freedom of choice. Once they have access to those factors and access to information regarding to those decision making factors, it will enable informed decision-making.

I employ a qualitative research approach to this study. This study will apply the case study method, as the case study strategy is particularly appropriate for practice-based problems where experiences of actors and the context of action are important. I will have a number of research cases. One of the case studies is with Kela. Kela has provided me with data about the use of their platform (https://www.eu-terveydenhoito.fi/), which provides consumers with information about the healthcare services available to them in Finland. I have published a conference paper with Kela on the use of this platform. The second case study of this research will look into the adoption and use of public reporting systems for some respiratory health related issue, as planned in co-operation with the Finnish Organization for Respiratory Health.

I will conduct interviews with expert stakeholders of the Finnish Healthcare system for empirical data. Empirical data will be analysed by using thematic analysis.

The result of this study is expected to provide value to consumers, practitioners and policy makers. The findings will enable Kela to understand how to motivate consumers to adopt https://www.eu-terveydenhoito.fi/ a public reporting platform and effectively utilize this platform to select their healthcare services. The findings will also facilitate freedom of choice of consumers in Finland, which is a focal point of the health and social services reform (SOTE).

The findings are also useful to policy makers in the healthcare system of Finland. The qualitative insight from this research may also be useful for large diversified healthcare service providers planning on investing in the Finnish healthcare system. These businesses will be able to use the insights from this research to direct financial resources for improving market information systems, healthcare services and the various healthcare service portals available to consumers.