New Day, New Data

Hospitals must fulfill obligations aside from their day-to-day obligations. For instance, hospitals must prepare for disasters and mass casualty incidents, such as our community experiences during tropical storms. They are also open 24/7 and are required to provide year-round emergency room services irrespective of the patient’s ability to pay. It’s quite unlike a mechanic’s garage, where you must pay the bill in full in order to get your automobile back.

Further complicating the issue of transparency is that one person’s admission for a gall bladder removal (or any other procedure) can be significantly different from another patient who is admitted for the same procedure. Many factors ― including age, general health, previous surgeries and other illnesses or conditions ― dictate if a patient is a candidate for a less-invasive procedure, for example.

Today, many hospitals are nonetheless providing patient information on routine procedures, including MRIs, mammograms, knee replacement surgery and hysterectomies. You can find links to a myriad of sources including clinical statistics such as number of procedures performed and patient satisfaction on our list, "Sources on Transparency & Patient Satisfaction".

Remember, data of this nature doesn’t always account for actual differences in published quality of care measures, and patient satisfaction data which appear on yet a different set of websites.

All of these report cards and rankings should only be used in conjunction with other important factors, including physician recommendation and insurance coverage requirements. It is also very helpful to check the hospital’s own website. Much of the information published there may relate more directly to your pending visit.

Recently, Yelp, more commonly known for its restaurant reviews, began partnering with the non-profit consumer journalism organization ProPublica to provide healthcare information. Part of the information will come from Medicare/CMS, and some from original statistical analysis and research. This information will be provided along with consumer reviews, providing a dual perspective.

According to this article in Modern Healthcare, all the data and information will not be of equal interest to everyone. Patients researching some procedures may care more about one metric while others may be more focused on other measures. All of which brings us back to the relationship that you have established with your primary care provider, who can help you make an informed decision using all the information available.

More on Transparency: FAQs to Consider