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Archive April 2015 XVI, No. 4

Take Advantage of Healthcare Transparency

Expert insights on putting quality measures and outside opinions to work for your facility.

David Bernard, Senior Associate Editor

BIO

quality measures BEYOND THE STARS Do you know what patients are saying about you online? Are you marketing your positive reviews, and counteracting any negative ones?

Between the quality measures that government agencies collect, the performance statistics you report to benchmarking services and the levels of satisfaction your patients feel after their surgical experiences, there's a lot of information out there to rate how you're doing your job. Recent years have seen more and more of this type of information becoming publicly available, to the point that a potential patient can make a judgment on the care you provide without even setting foot in your facility. But you can use these details to your advantage if you know how to make healthcare transparency work for you.

When quality is quantified
It's not hard to figure out where the increasingly educated healthcare consumer came from. "Healthcare shouldered them with more of a financial burden," says Jerry Hadlock, CRNA, director of anesthesia at St. George (Utah) Surgical Center, which has begun posting the prices of surgeries it offers on its website (sgsc.net). "If they have to pay more, they're going to look for a good price, quality and safety." As a result, they're demanding and relying on available data to find it.

Medicare has been seeking out the best deals in health care as well. Its quality measures reporting program for ASCs and value-based purchasing incentives for hospitals link performance indicators to fiscal consequences. And many states require public reporting of healthcare-associated infection rates and other patient safety data.

If you're already collecting and reporting these quality measures, why not put them to use? "We've been discussing the idea of people proactively posting their Medicare quality indicators on websites, or pushing them on social media," says Joan Dentler, MBA, president and CEO of Avanza Healthcare Strategies in Austin, Texas. "Consumers are very, very interested in that information, and incorporating it into a marketing plan is free and easy."

What's more, it's a goal you're already striving for in the name of patient care. "We're focused on CMS and Joint Commission surveys, we definitely want to pass their standards," says Mr. Hadlock. "We release infection rates, utilizing them in marketing to educate the public. If you're doing everything you can to ensure quality and safety, there shouldn't be too much concern" about the information that gets disclosed.

"Infection rate is No. 1 right now," says Ann Geier, MS, RN, CNOR, CASC, chief nursing officer for SourceMedical Solutions. "What are you doing to ensure your infection rates are as low as possible? If you are doing well, use that in your marketing, on your website, in your brochures. If not, don't promote it, but use it to improve. Then make sure you maintain that improvement."

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