The Niagara Health Quality Coalition (NHQC) has released its ninth annual state-of-the-art report that offers updated measures that evaluate care at every hospital in the state. Measures include mortality rates, error rates, surgical infection rates, appropriate utilization rates, pain management and overall patient satisfaction with clinical care. This year, NHQC has added important measures for some of you including: 1) “Americas Safest Hospitals(SM)” for New York State and 2) Patient safety Watch List hospitals for New York State. These two new reports are based on hospitals safety results and do not include any physician opinion surveys that many researchers opine represents a biased and unscientific sampling technique that tends to reward bigger institutions rather than better ones.
The 2011 New York State Hospital Report Card(SM), is located at www.myHealthFinder.com, and is the only report of its kind in New York State and the nation’s longest running annual report of its kind. This report is not a collection of voluntary or self-reported process measures that have limited value to consumers. This is vital information that patients need in order to discuss care options with their doctor, and that community/policy leaders need in order to make better health care decisions. NHQC will offer Spanish translations too.
The website also offers a link to profiles of doctors licensed in New York State. Information about the doctor’s medical education; Information about translation services at the doctor’s office; Information about legal actions taken against the doctor.
Doctors can also give extra information (optional information) about their practice. Each doctor is invited to add:
• The practice name, address and phone number of all offices
• The names of other doctors in a practice group
• A list of the articles or research papers the doctor has published
• A list of professional and community service activities or awards
• A list of the health plans the doctor works with
• A personal statement about any information in the doctor’s profile
NHQC accepts no funding and solicits no revenues of any kind from the hospitals that are graded in this report. NHQC is not funded or governed by the health insurance industry that has extensive contracting relationships with the hospitals graded in this report. The www.myHealthFinder.com Web site is advertiser-free and there is no charge for consumers to use it. It also contains a link to the U.S. Department of health & Human Services site Consumer Health Guides
SUMMARY OF STATEWIDE FINDINGS
1. NHQC’s pioneering report entitled “America’s Safest Hospitals(SM)” is being released to accompany this year’s New York State Hospital Report Card(SM) for consumers. NHQC also produces a watch list to identify hospitals with proportionally more hospital safety issues. Both of these reports are based on clinical results such as risk adjusted error rates, risk adjusted mortality rates, and the presence or absence of significant safety events that should rarely or never occur (i.e., transfusion reaction and foreign body left during surgery).
These reports are not based on physician opinion surveys which many researchers opine represent a biased and unscientific sampling technique that tends to reward bigger institutions rather than better ones.
2) Since NHQC first began disclosing statewide provider performance ratings in its 2002 New York State Hospital Report Card(SM), massive quality strides have been achieved. For example:
a. Statewide, mortality rates have improved by an average of more than a 50%
b. 12 out of fourteen hospital error rates that NHQC measures have improved; however, hospital acquired surgical infection rates (i.e., sepsis) continue to worsen.
c. There has been an average of a 25% reduction in the number of hospitals doing procedures below the volume thresholds recommended in the scientific literature (i.e., excludes CABG which has been subject to public reporting for many years prior to NHQC.)
d. By publishing provider-specific performance reports in New York State without providers’ or insurers’ permission, NHQC helps preserve the unfettered operation of cherished freedom of information laws. NHQC helps to preserve the proper operation of freedom of information laws nationally.
These are strides that could be reversed if NHQC’s independent reports are lost or if they are allowed to fall under the control of the health care industry.
3) NHQC’s county-level hospitalization rates tell state and federal policy-makers where physicians are doing the best (and worst) job of treating people at home so they don’t need to go into the hospital as often.
Geography should not be more important in determining the kind of care you receive; but it is, and these county level reports aim to reduce uneven care and improve quality.
4) English and Spanish versions of the New York State Hospital Report Card(SM) are available. This is the nation’s longest running annual report of statewide hospital performance based on federal measures that NHQC helped develop; and the report was the nation’s first to be made available in English and Spanish.
5) Quality variations between and within hospitals remain too high for most types of care. Safety events are improving but remain significantly more frequent than emerging safety systems should allow. And, having a complex surgery performed where few similar procedures are done may be bad for your health.
NHQC was founded in 1996 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nationally recognized multi-stakeholder organization dedicated to improving quality through cooperation and information.