That growing public demand for access to healthcare information is still running into resistance from some in the medical establishment.
"There are those who still have a very paternalistic view of the healthcare system, which is [that] nobody is smart enough to understand the way it works except for those who run it and they should be putting in place whatever they believe is necessary to protect the patients and it is not the role of pesky journalists or inquisitive patients to take them to task," Ornstein says. "But these initiatives, which are putting information in the public domain, necessarily require hospitals to look at these things themselves and to hopefully correct problems before they harm patients."
Ornstein believes those objections will dissolve as transparency demonstrates that it can help improve quality and patient safety even as it reduces costs. "When reporters write about problems within the healthcare system, the goal is that the problems will be fixed," he says. "If you are able to write a story about hospitals that make mistakes, you would hope that not only would the hospital you are writing about fix the problem but that other hospitals would read about it and would make sure it doesn't happen at their hospital."