Improve Patient Experience By Giving Them What They Want: Performance Transparency
March 1, 2016Source:

Health systems are spending bags of money to add resort-like amenities to their hospitals – valet parking, live music, ambient lighting and original works of art – all in the name of improving the patient experience.

But if health systems really want to improve patient experience, they only need to add one thing: Physician Performance Transparency.

When the Department of Health and Human Services decided it would base 30% of hospitals’ Medicare reimbursement on their Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey scores, hospitals started to bend over backward to make patients happy.

But the HHS wasn’t attempting to fix the problem of unhappy patients. It was trying to fix the problem of dead ones. The HHS thought they were creating a survey about objective, meaningful outcomes – how quickly patients’ needs were addressed, whether they got better or worse during their hospital stay. Instead, the surveys (and therefore hospitals’ reimbursements) focused more on the quality of food than on the quality of care.

As a result, health systems began to lose sight of what is important. Instead of room-service menus, patients need context and comparisons. Does my doctor have a high mortality rate? Does my doctor have the latest technological advances to treat me in the most effective way possible? Hospitals need to provide that information to patients, and weigh that performance data against similar providers.

If patients are allowed to mine the key information that actually pertains to their care, the resulting physician performance transparency will paint a complete picture of a provider’s experience, quality, and cost. This will empower the patient to choose the provider who is right for her, resulting in lowered cost, better care and – yes – improved patient experience.

Currently, outcomes and clinical data information are available from both commercial and CMS sources, but many hospitals are also starting to present their own in-house data for analysis to help improve performance and identify potential cost savings.

This is a fantastic trend, and one that needs to be shared with patients. Instead of wasting time with providers who lack the requisite training, don’t have the proper expertise or are just not the right “fit” for a particular patient, performance transparency will align patients immediately to the “best” doctor for them. This will result in better outcomes – a cycle of success that can only help physicians and health systems.

Unfortunately, study after study shows that the U.S. is woefully lacking in transparency. When Yale University researchers examined 19 developed nations, they found the United States has the highest rate of deaths from conditions that could have been prevented or treated. U.S. patients receive only about half of the care recommended for their condition, and nearly 30% of the care delivered each year is for services that may not improve their health. The Yale study notes:

Despite significant consequences of uninformed consumption of healthcare, evidence suggests that healthcare consumers do not spend much time determining the price and the quality of their healthcare options. But for the most part it is not because they do not want to—it is because they cannot.

Researchers argue that by shedding light on performance transparency, treatments will become more relevant, effective and affordable.

Forget the roses delivered with breakfast and the pianist in the lobby. If you want to create a Ritz-level patient experience, give your patients the thing they really want: The knowledge that their doctors have the expertise and track record to heal them when they’re sick.

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Topics: Healthcare