Monday, May 11, 2015

Do they deserve a medal?

The United Hospital Fund has posted a quarter page ad in the New York Times, entitled "They deserve a medal."  The ad celebrates hospital trustees whose "leadership and dedication make life better for all New Yorkers," and there will be a presentation in their honor at the Waldorf-Astoria.  This is an annual event by the UHF.

I firmly believe that hospital trustees are dedicated and thoughtful folks, who devote time, energy, and money to support local institutions.  We should indeed be grateful for their devotion to the cause.  But it's been my experience that many hospital governing boards fail to address fully the patient experience.

So, I wondered what, other than personal commitment, the boards of these hospitals have achieved on that front.  I tapped the government's Hospital Compare website to explore just a few of the named hospitals.

I looked at the grades for patient experience and found the following for St. Barnabas Hospital. (The first column is the hospital, the next is a comparison to New York hospitals, and the last column is a comparison to the national average.)

The hospital was below both the regional and national average when it came to getting information to patients about what to do during recovery at home, how well patients understood their care when they left the hospital, the percentage of patients who gave the hospital the highest ratings, and the percentage of patients who would recommend the hospital.

Ditto for Wyckoff Weights Medical Center:

In contrast, Eastern Long Island Hospital did well, matching or beating the average in all four categories:

Not fair, some will claim.  For one thing, the Hospital Compare numbers don't show a trend.  But the data are reasonably current (from July 2013 to June 2014) and are collected in a uniform manner across the region and country.

I join the UHF in praising these trustees for what they have done.  And perhaps a number of trustees mentioned in its advertisement have been champions for the kind of results we all seek.  If so, it would be great if the UHF could connect the dots between individual trustee action, governance processes they have put in place, and the results for patients.

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