November 20, 2015
How can you help reduce a patient's risk of dying by 71% and their risk of experiencing complications by 65%? The latest Healthgrades report comparing patient outcomes points to three potential strategies.
Those figures reference the difference between receiving care at a 1-star and a 5-star hospital in the Healthgrades 2016 Report to the Nation (PDF). As rising premiums and high-deductible plans shift more responsibility for medical costs onto consumers, selecting a doctor and hospital that best meets their needs has become increasingly important. Here are three ways you can satisfy consumer demand for transparency.
- Encourage Patients to Do Their Homework: Consumers tend to rely on family and friends for doctor recommendations. But patient satisfaction is only one component of a physician’s value to potential patients. According to a recent Healthgrades study, 85% of consumers would choose a different doctor if they were given physician experience, satisfaction, and outcomes information when they made their choice. That’s why it’s important to encourage your patients to do their research with comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals, like that found on healthgrades.com, a leading online resource that helps connect patients with the best physician for their individual needs. It isn’t necessarily the doctor their mother liked who produces the best outcomes for that condition.
- Help Patients Play the Matching Game: Selecting a hospital is an important component of selecting a doctor. Encourage patients to choose a doctor first, one who has the most experience treating their condition or performing the surgery they need. Hospital choice is the next critical aspect of their decision when they need surgery or inpatient care. Patients should choose the highest-quality hospital that the physician is affiliated with—the one with the lowest complication and highest survival rates. It’s a matching process. While it may not be as much fun as swiping right on Tinder, it is much more important to their ongoing health and well-being. That’s why it’s important to be transparent about your clinical quality and focus patient attention on your high-quality services.
- Recognize the Principle of Specificity: Unfortunately, not all hospitals are good at every procedure, so patients must choose based on their specific needs. You should understand your detailed quality performance—in what areas are you a top-performing organization? Where do you need to improve? How do your competitors perform in the same areas? It is in patients’ best interests to direct their care to wherever the best outcomes are being achieved. Draw attention to your top-performing hospitals and service lines. Focus quality improvement efforts on those areas where your performance is lower than expected. In the meantime, perhaps consider a partnership with a high-performing hospital for your lower-quality services. For example, one strategy academic medical centers may pursue is dividing up their high- and low-acuity care among appropriate facilities.
As consumers shoulder more responsibility for their healthcare, make it transparent and convenient for them to make the right choices. Help them understand the benefits of specificity, research, and matchmaking.