For episode four of our podcast, we spoke with Shakil Haroon, founder and CEO at MPIRICA. Before a sick family member’s ordeal ignited his passion for clarity in healthcare, Shakil was steeped in software. An engineer by training, he has led sales teams at industry stalwarts Intel and Microsoft, and has more than 15 years executive experience with VC-backed startups. With MPIRICA, Shakil has embraced a mission to bring a valid, reliable way for patients and payers to pursue high-quality care.
Steven Cutbirth, our host and Director of Marketing, and Alan Garcia, our Head of Digital Strategy and Analytics, were excited to nerd out on healthcare data and quality metrics with Shakil. You can listen to the whole episode here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you listen to podcasts. If you’re short on time, we’ve included a few highlights from our conversation below:
Alan Garcia: It is so hard for patients to find affordable, quality healthcare in the U.S.. From your vantage point as somebody who has kind of climbed the mountain and figured out how to determine the quality of the provider, what do you think is preventing the patient from getting access to the affordable, quality care that’s out there?
Shakil Haroon: That’s a great question that pretty much cuts to the heart of the matter. It’s hard because it’s designed to be hard. The industry has zero incentive, and perhaps huge disincentives, to make their costs or their quality levels known broadly. I mean, think about the hospital facility that might, for whatever reason, not be doing a great job at a knee replacement surgery at the average cost of some $40,000 for the average inpatient surgery. Who goes there if it’s well known that you don’t do a good job of that particular surgery? Well, you’re not, and so therefore that revenue goes out the window.
It is in no provider’s interest to make that information known. And given that surgery in particular is the profit center for the healthcare industry, bar none, I mean what provider in their right mind would ever make their proficiency known if they’re not stellar? Who would go there? I think that’s pretty self-explanatory that it wouldn’t happen. So as a result, you’ve got an industry where opacity is sort of the way things are done. Not only from a cost of care standpoint, and you guys have covered that really well in the past, but I would say even more so on the quality front. There’s absolutely zero incentive and powerful disincentives to make this information available to consumers and payers out there. So first and foremost, I would say it’s by design that you can’t get this information to help your decision-making as to where to go get care.
Steven Cutbirth: Is the DTC (direct-to-consumer) challenge partly patient education and getting them to actually utilize this information?
Shakil Haroon: It’s a challenge to communicate, at least on the quality front, sufficient to their needs. Especially for inpatient surgery. The decision that we’re asking patients to make is really fraught with a massive amount of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It’s a heavy lift for most patients to make, given the near complete lack of understanding of their health condition as well as the risks of the surgery that they’re going to go through. So this fear, uncertainty, and doubt has somewhat paralyzed consumers. Despite having the information that makes it clear what the levels of risks are that they’re taking, they’ll oftentimes say, “let me check with somebody else about this,” and talk to their primary care physicians, friends, and family around what they think the best course of care might be. So they [patients] want to do anything but make a decision on their own. Irrespective of great data being in front of them.
Steven Cutbirth: There’s around 5,000 outcomes measures that various insurers and groups require doctors and hospitals to measure on, and that becomes cumbersome because there isn’t a single, clear series of metrics. Are you and your team are trying to address that by building out a clear measure that could be utilized to help some of the providers and hospitals who are struggling with trying to report so many different measures?
Shakil Haroon: Absolutely. Part of the problem is that there are so many measures because everyone’s measuring different things. If you’re a hospital administrator, you have one set of interests. If you’re a patient, you have an entirely different set of interests. At the end of the day, the better question is “what perspective do I have in trying to figure out what’s the right quality measure for me?” We [MPIRICA] come at it from the point of view of the patient. What are they asking? Almost without exception, the question is “Am I going to be okay?”
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Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, a physician leader, joined us on this podcast episode to discuss technology.