Hospital Quality: Does It Matter?

February 24, 2017

What difference does broad-based hospital quality excellence make to patients?

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It means they have an over 26% lower chance of dying while hospitalized, according to a Healthgrades analysis of our 2017 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence recipients. These hospitals represent the top 5% in the nation for delivering high-quality care across at least 21 of 32 common inpatient conditions and procedures.

Saving Lives

For some individual conditions, the results are even more impressive. For example, the Center for Disease Control recently reported that after years of declining heart failure mortality rates, patient death rates have begun to climb again. But at Distinguished Hospital Award recipients, patients have an over 30% lower risk of dying from heart failure than they do at lower-performing hospitals.

Patients with sepsis, which can have a mortality rate as high as 60%, also have an over 25% lower risk of dying at Distinguished Hospital Award recipients. Patients with pneumonia, which the World Health Organization ranks as the largest infectious cause of pediatric death worldwide, have the most significant results at Distinguished Hospital Award recipients, with a nearly 37% lower risk of dying.

The comparative risk of dying for common conditions at award recipients versus non-award recipient hospitals includes:

  • Pneumonia: 36.7% lower risk
  • Heart Failure: 30.5% lower risk
  • Sepsis: 25.1% lower risk
  • Stroke: 25% lower risk
  • Respiratory Failure: 24.4% lower risk
  • Heart Attack: 22.5% lower risk

Do Patients Notice?

Recent STAX research commissioned by Healthgrades confirms that patients are 82% more likely to make an appointment with a doctor whose available online information includes experience, patient satisfaction, and associated hospital quality. That means that patients view the quality of the hospital where a physician practices as a primary differentiator. Not surprisingly, patients care about emerging alive and well from a healthcare encounter.

In fact, consumers who visit are 54% more likely to book an appointment with a different physician than the one they initially research. So if your hospital is a Distinguished Hospital Award recipient, making that information available to consumers helps them to make informed healthcare choices.

Educating Physicians

As Medical Economics recently observed, physicians don’t pay as much attention to hospital quality rankings as they probably should. Instead, they rely on their networks and subjective observations when deciding where to admit patients.

Educating your physicians and other community physicians on the importance of hospital quality to consumer decision-making may change that habit. As physicians come to understand the fundamental value of online ratings to patient choice, they will be more open to learning about objective hospital quality. They can have confidence in the ability of their online profiles–their personal experience and patient satisfaction, and the performance of the hospitals where they practice– to draw new patients.

Does broad-based hospital quality excellence matter to patients? Yes: It drives their choice of doctor, and it helps them emerge alive and well from a hospitalization.

See the list of 2017 Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award recipients here.

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