While I am a great believer in data and performance measures, not sure how it works in the real world in terms of choice of hospitals, given that some US health plans and insurance company policies may limit choice in the interest of reducing costs (in Canada, while there are published hospital safety statistics, there are choice limitations given it is a public system). However, the ratings themselves do provide incentives for hospitals to improve their quality control. Quote
It can be easy to decide if the safety, or the style, or the performance of a car is most important to you. Unfortunately, choosing what’s most important in health care can make us ask difficult and seemingly unreasonable questions. Is my primary goal to survive my hospitalization, avoid infections and medication errors, or have a reasonably good experience? Every individual has to decide what matters most. If a low mortality rate is most important, U.S. News is your best bet. If you care most about patient safety, then Leapfrog is the way to go. Consumer Reports emphasizes infections, unnecessary radiation and patient experience. If those matter most, CR is your best bet.
My personal list ranks mortality as most important (by far), followed by safety, with patient experience an important but distant third. Others will make different choices. This is why we need different lists and different types of hospitals. It’s time for consumers to use this new information to make better choices. I know that there is little precedent for consumers choosing healthcare providers based on quality. I’ve always believed it is because they lacked good data. In an era of greater transparency, if consumers vote with their feet, it’ll make hospital care better for everyone.