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How Do You Measure Quality?

Hospitals and doctors vary in the quality of care they provide. Their quality varies due to training, experience, resources and more. While it can be challenging to choose a health care provider, the following criteria offer reliable ways to judge quality.

Proven Treatment Standards

In some areas of medicine, research has proven which medical treatments offer the best results. Based on this research, national quality organizations have developed treatment recommendations for heart attack, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical infection prevention.

As a medical consumer, you have the right to know which medical providers follow these recommendations consistently. Learn more about Proven Treatment Standards and how Deaconess compliance compares to other providers.

Recognition for Medical Excellence and Leadership

Credentials - Credentialing organizations establish standards of quality in health care. Medical providers must prove that they meet the standards in order to gain official recognition by these groups. For hospitals, recognition may be in the form of a certification, accreditation or designation. View Awards & Recognition to learn about Deaconess credentials. Physicians may earn board certification. Our Find a Doctor section offers information on individual physicians.

Awards - Other groups offer awards to recognize medical excellence and leadership. View our growing list of accomplishments at Awards & Recognition. See Medical Professionals for a partial list of our staff's advanced certifications and individual awards.

Medical Outcomes

Before agreeing to a medical procedure, talk to your doctor about his or her experience performing it. How many times has your doctor done the procedure? What were the medical outcomes? What is the mortality rate for the procedure at your hospital, and specifically when performed by your doctor? What are the complication rates for the procedure? How do your doctor's results compare to national averages? All of these questions will help you make an informed decision.

At Deaconess the Inpatient Mortality Rate is an outcome measure of quality and is calculated by dividing the number of in-hospital deaths by the number of inpatient discharges. The Inpatient Mortality Rate is compared to the expected mortality rate. An Inpatient Mortality Index is also calculated using a ratio of the actual mortality rate to the expected mortality rate. Deaconess uses a national database with APR DRG data purchased through 3M to calculate the expected mortality rate. The calculation takes into account the severity or risk of death for each patient based on his/her co morbidities. The goal is to have an Inpatient Mortality Rate that is less than the expected inpatient mortality rate or less than an index of 1. The Inpatient Mortality Rate for Deaconess Hospital continues to be very good; the actual mortality rate was below the expected rate every month for the previous fiscal year (October 2005 to September 2006). The mortality index for the fiscal year was 0.7 or 30% less than expected given the severity of illness for the patients.

Validation of Quality Data

Importance of Validation - Many resources allow consumers to compare the quality of hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers. These resources can be valuable, but it is important to be aware of the accuracy of their data. Often, quality statistics are self-reported by medical providers. Unfortunately, medical providers can make honest mistakes when collecting data. A validation process ensures accuracy through a secondary review of patient records. At Deaconess, we are committed to devoting the resources necessary to provide accurate and complete information.

Comparing Quality - Our Compare Providers page links to many quality-related Web sites. We believe you will find each of them helpful, although none is perfect. For example, organizations like Leapfrog rely on an honor system and do not use a validation process for the quality information published on their Web site. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has a validation process, and the results impact the amount of Medicare reimbursement hospitals receive.

Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction ratings show health care from the patient’s point of view. While the previous measures focus primarily on clinical excellence, patient satisfaction ratings also reflect service excellence. These ratings can be impacted by how well doctors and other caregivers listen, how well they answer questions, how long patients wait for services, how clean a facility is, how the food tastes, and more. The ratings can be a good predictor of the experience you will have with a particular provider. Learn more about Patient Satisfaction at Deaconess Hospital.