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article imageU.S. Survey Tracks Patient Satisfaction, Inspiring Website to Compare Hospitals

By David Silverberg     Mar 31, 2008 in Health
Many Americans are unhappy with their local health care, a national survey found. Patients may not recommend hospitals to friends or relatives, but the survey has at least sparked a useful tool: a website to compare various hospitals in any given city.
Digital Journal — Health care is once again making headlines, but in a way that calls for more prescriptions to ease the symptoms of unease in the U.S. A recent national survey said many patients were not treated properly by hospital staff and poor communication is a cause for concern, the survey found.
At the average U.S. hospital, more than a quarter of surveyed patients admitted nurses had not always communicated well with them. However, 63 per cent scored their hospitals a 9 or 10 on a scale of 0 to 10, and knowing which hospitals are the ones to seek out is paramount before making a health care decision.
The survey is meant to provide constructive feedback to doctors and hospital staff on how they can improve health care. It also allowed patients to anonymously divulge the pros and cons of their recent hospital visits.
The survey, which questioned patients treated at more than 2,500 hospitals, has inspired the creation of an innovative website for consumers looking to compare hospitals in their area. The aptly named HospitalCompare.com was recently launched by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, allowing visitors to “compare the quality of care hospitals provide.” The website’s overview section adds:
Hospital Compare displays rates for Process of Care measures that show how often hospitals provide some of the care that is recommended for patients being treated for a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia, or patients having surgery. Hospitals voluntarily submit data from their medical records about the treatments their adult patients receive for these conditions, including patients with Medicare and those who do not have Medicare.How do you use the site? Enter a city, hospital name, zip code, country or state to find the hospitals you want to compare. The site will list all of the hospitals in upstate New York, for example, or all the hospitals in cities such as Little Rock, Arkansas. At a glance, you can see which hospital provides emergency services, while also listing the average Medicare payment made to hospital per day. Select up to three hospitals and then the site will display survey results for each hospital in various categories: the percentage of patients who reported that their nurses “Always” communicated well, for instance, or the percentage of patients who reported that the area around their room was “Always” quiet at night.
Some hospitals fared very well, such as the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey -- 78 per cent of patients said they would definitely recommend it. But only 44 per cent of patients recommended Sound Shore Medical Center of Westchester in New Rochelle.
Rich Umbdenstock, CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a statement:
Ultimately, this tool benefits everyone as it helps consumers and patients find out how often a hospital provides certain aspects of care while allowing hospitals to focus care improvement efforts on areas where patients feel it is most needed.
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