Patient Volume Beats Atmosphere as Hospital Quality Indicator

Jefferson University HospitalsPatient satisfaction scores are not the best measure of hospital quality, according to study by health economist Robert D. Lieberthal, PhD, of the Jefferson School of Population Health.

Certainly, factors such as the noisiness of a hospital and communication by nurses and doctors are important factors for patients and families. But those measures do not good gauge  the quality of care provided, notes Lieberthal, the lead author of the study appearing in the journal Risk Management and Insurance Review.

“Patients who have chronic conditions like heart failure should go to large hospitals that treat a lot of other patients with heart failure,” Lieberthal says.

“There is a lot of information patients can use to select a hospital,” he adds. “However, there is usually a laundry list of indicators that may not mean much for the lay person or that they may be unaware even exists. Our method compares hospitals directly, so that a patient choosing between two or three hospitals can easily compare them and choose the highest quality facility.”

Lieberthal refined an existing statistical methodology known as the PRIDIT to gauge hospital quality. His model was developed to establish a steady, predictable scale for hospital quality so that actuaries could map out reimbursement rates over years for programs like Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

“Based on this study, the hospitals that have the best survival outcomes are not doing the best job of satisfying patients,” Lieberthal says.

The study was highlighted recently in The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Check Up column as well as nationally in a health brief in The Metro newspaper, Fierce Healthcare and MedicalDaily.com.

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