At the beginning of 2013, UT Southwestern quietly began to roll out its quality data for public inspection on its website.
UTSW groups its performance into four broad categories:
- Best practices and core measures, which includes heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care.
- Clinic outcomes, such as patient readmissions and patient mortality rates for specific conditions.
- Patient safety, including infection rates, hand hygiene and patient falls that result in injury.
- Patient satisfaction ratings by Press Ganey.
For each measure, the system indicates whether it is in the top 10 percent of U.S. hospitals, within 5 percent of the hospital average, or more than 5 percent over or under the hospital average.
Gary Reed, MD, UTSW chief quality officer and professor of internal medicine, said the system worked on the website for about six months in 2012. It reviewed about 25 similar websites to determine which data would be included. He said some are already available on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website while others are internal measures. Reed said public quality-measure websites are common in the Northeast, but have yet to become prominent in the middle of the country.
UTSW launched a centralized improvement program to oversee clinical quality and patient safety in its hospitals and clinics in 2010. The website is an outgrowth of that effort.
The website was announced internally in January and field-tested with patients and other outside sources to ensure the information was useful.
Reed said the website has two primary purposes.
“First, patients deserve to know this information. Second, it acts as an internal motivator. Besides those areas where we fall short, we want to be even better in areas where we are already good,” he said.
Reed estimated the website got about 1,000 hits in February. UTSW does not plan to promote the website in an advertising campaign, but it will begin to publicize its existence in each of its facilities and clinics.
UTSW plans to continue to build more data into the website. For example, it plans to publicize infection rates for specific procedures such as heart surgeries and joint replacement.
Reed said patients have appreciated the transparency. “Some (health systems) put (quality data) out there for marketing reasons. We’re just trying to help patients make choices about where they get their healthcare,” he said.
Texas Health Resources also plans to publish safety and quality information in greater detail than what is available at Hospital Compare and other websites.
Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of the book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.