6.10.2009

How Good is Your Hospital? The Answer is Available

With lean initiatives, you are constantly striving to achieve perfection. But at the same time, you may want to benchmark your company’s performance against others in your industry to see how you are doing, and as a first step in figuring out why other companies are doing better than yours.

Certainly a customer may be interested in knowing who the best suppliers are.

In healthcare, interest in benchmarking has created a market opportunity being seized by a young company called Health Grades.

There are numerous companies whose websites offer ratings of doctors and hospitals, but those are often based on the opinions of other doctors or patients.

As profiled in an article in Forbes, Health Grades is taking a more objective approach.


At least 31 states now release health outcome data for hospitals on the Internet; much of it is focused on surgical procedures such as coronary bypass. Medicare has its own hospital comparison site, which counts how often hospitals follow certain safety procedures.

Much of this data is scattered across the Web and of variable quality. Health Grades is among the first to make rating hospitals into a business, gathering data for every hospital and putting it all together in one easy-to-use site. It makes money by selling detailed reports (the basic ones are free), licensing its name to hospitals that do well and offering consulting services to ones that do poorly…

Today Health Grades' methodology is an industry standard, and top hospitals pay for its advice. Three years ago David Pate, who runs the parent hospital of the renowned Texas Heart Institute, was alarmed to see that the Houston hospital had a 2% death rate for bypass surgery--slightly above the expected number. Pate hired Health Grades, which found three processes lacking. Patients on blood thinners were not being properly monitored; some were getting overdoses of contrast dye during ct scans; too many patients on ventilators were catching pneumonia. The bypass mortality is down to 1.8%. The hospital still doesn't earn Health Grades' highest rating for bypass surgery.


I see this as a positive development, as it can help to raise awareness of what can be achieved. The danger is that some hospitals will see the highest current levels of performance as the best that can be achieved, and not embrace a true lean mind-set of continuous improvement.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have heard medical colleagues say things like "we are the cream of the crap". Not nice, but true. Benchmarking doesn't help much when EVERYBODY has so much waste in their processes. Some people, thanks to lean, are waking up to this idea that we can strive for perfection, not just to be as good or slightly better than the others.