Friday, March 28, 2008

Another advance for transparency

I'm sorry if this has been around for some time and I missed it earlier, but Massachusetts General Hospital has posted an excellent site on its quality and safety programs and results. I think it has a very nice graphic design, and it is clear and understandable in terms of the explanations and numbers. I am not surprised, in that I know that CEO Peter Slavin and his colleagues are highly committed to excellence in this arena. Please take a look.

I welcome your thoughts about the relative ways MGH and BIDMC present this information. As I have often mentioned, these kind of sites are not about competition between and among hospitals: They are most important as a way to hold ourselves accountable to ourselves and to the public. I welcome your help in telling us if our presentation can be improved to achieve those goals.


Anonymous said...

MGH presents more measures, trended data, and frankly, their numbers are impressive. But 100% so common, really? If data are not credible (or verifiable), they lose any value as means of accountability and transparency.

While you may discount the competitive angle, that is just how the media present comparative information to the public. How else are rational shoppers supposed to respond? (Not that all healthcare shopping is rational, of course).

Anonymous said...

Most patients are not shoppers. They tend to go where their primary care doctor refers them.

And when there is an emergency, you don't look up metrics to decide where to go.

Anonymous said...

Excuse my ignorance as a student.

These public transparency efforts, in the language they use and the site designs, all seem keyed towards patients themselves. Not towards their physicians or patient advocacy groups.

Admittedly patients aren't going to hold hospitals accountable by plopping down their insurance card elsewhere based on quality metrics like these. So who amongst the 'public' do you envision holding hospitals accountable with data like this? Does merely knowing the data is out there, even if it does little to alter patient and referring physician behavior, help promote better hospital practices amongst staff?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it does! Amazing, eh?

Please recall that MDs are data driven people. That's part of the reason.

Dave said...

I am a (fairly educated) patient (and healthcare quality nut).

I believe the comparisons are more important than just the improvement from baseline, if you are asking what moves the "outside" hospital world.

Much like executive dashboards are all the rage, that style works for me too. It's hard to describe all of this in a post, but I think the stronger message (and convincing aspect of these #'s) is in essence:

1. Where am I today?
2. Where was I yesterday? (trend)
3. Where are OTHERS like me?
4. What is everyone else doing?

These 4 things if applied to Hospital, Metric, or Patient help us to discern if this is a 'good' place (marked by better than or equal to the average), is it good for my specific needs (specialty/type of hospital/area), do they demonstrate excellence and growth (trending)

As a Patient, even if I don't fully understand the metrics that provides context for me and my choices. Patients who have a good relationship with their PCP will then be able to bring this information to them, or vice-versa the PCP may be able to dig deeper into understanding the validity of the metrics.

We are of course trying to measure some common things (and I know this is frought with difficulty given that everyone wants to measure using different yard sticks so to speak)...

But.. you asked..