Thursday, October 17, 2013

A different kind of poll

Like thousands of others, I have an account on LinkedIn, but I have generally found it to be an uninteresting place to hang out (in an electronic sense.)  That changed this morning when I saw a poll sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic.

Yes, this is a clever advertising ploy, but it also produced some interesting results and commentary.  Here's the summary page--(yes, accompanied by more links to the Clinic's propaganda)--but look at the numbers from when I viewed it. (Current update here.)

Top-ranked answers were "treatment outcomes" and "patient experience."  Our audience of poll-takers clearly understands the limited value of third-party rankings. Take note, US Rumor, er News!  But also take note, hospital PR departments and doctors who think that those rankings matter at all.

Indeed, how ironic that the Cleveland Clinic touts these rankings in its advertisements and web presence!

Oh, but I depart from the main points.  The survey also suggests that people are not all that interested in medical research or even "world class physicians" in making their choices.  Maybe UPMC and other academic giants will remember that when they spend money on those glossy New York Times ads.

OK, so people want good treatment outcomes and a good patient experience.  That seems sensible.  Let's see what some of the comments were.  I think they are quite thoughtful.

Unfortunately, in most states and for most hospitals, useful data on outcomes is not available.  What is published is often indecipherable and two to three years old.  Also, patient satisfaction data is often based on surveys conducted well after the fact, with incomplete and non-culturally competent survey instruments.  Of all the state hospital associations, the only ones I know that are trying to deal with those problems in a constructive, collaborative, non-competitive manner are the Washington State Hospital Association and the coalition of Ohio's pediatric hospitals.  Perhaps there are others.  I'd love to learn of them.

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