Beyond reporting: XBRL’s role in healthcare

Posted on Mon, Feb 08, 2010 – 06:30 am at |

One of the memes of medical banking is the role transparency can play to wring out the fraud in the healthcare system. One of the topics I’ve been monitoring has been the global adoption of eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL–pronounced eks-Burl).

It has been a year since the SEC adopted rules to require the 500 largest public companies in the U.S. to provide financial statements using interactive data:

… to improve the usefulness of financial information to investors by requiring domestic and foreign companies to provide to the Commission a new exhibit with their financial statements, including the footnotes and schedules to the financial statements, in interactive data format. Interactive data will supplement, but not replace or change, disclosure using the traditional electronic filing formats in ASCII or HTML. Interactive data will be required with a filer’s annual and quarterly reports, transition reports, and Securities Act registration statements, and on its corporate Web site, if it maintains one. The requirements will be phased in…

Other firms are to follow eventually. Global XBRL adopters include the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), The Tokyo Stock Exchange, Shenzhen Stock Exchange in Asia, the Bank of Spain, the National Bank of Belgium, and many others.

One of the points that Wilson So, Director of Hitachi Consulting Corporation XBRL Business Unit, and Peter Weverka make in XBRL for Dummies-Limited Edition is that if your conception of what XBRL can enable is limited to reporting, you’re missing out. So continues that argument at Data Interactive.

But let’s look at the power of interactive data just in the realm of reporting. To do so, let me request you to put two concepts in your mind and then run a mental synergy experiment:

Thought A: Consumer-driven Healthcare.

Thought B: The Microfinance Information Exchange, Inc. (MIX), “the leading business information provider dedicated to strengthening the microfinance sector.” MIX uses XBRL as a core technology for data collection and presentation and is introducing a standard reporting framework and helping microfinance become more fully integrated into mainstream markets.

Finally, concerning the probable creation of a Healthcare Financial Information Exchange–CFO ALERT–please consider this question: Is your healthcare provider and insurance company ready for you to examine them while your Doc is examining you?