It's like throwing a scalpel at a dartboard

Where's the best hospital to have surgery? Maybe not where you think.

A new study by Consumer Reports ("Safer-Surgery Survival Guide," July 2013) shows that some of the best known hospitals may not be your best bet for surgery. 

“Consumers have very little to go on when trying to select a hospital for surgery, not knowing which ones do a good job at keeping surgery patients safe and which ones don’t,” says Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project. “They might as well just throw a scalpel at a dartboard.”
Our new Surgery Ratings are part of an ongoing effort to shed light on hospital quality and to push the health care industry toward more transparency. “Because patients and their families shouldn’t have to make such important decisions with so little information,” McGiffert says.

The CR study looks at the percentage of Medicare patients who underwent surgery and either died in hospital or had to stay longer than expected. The rankings look at 27 different surgical procedures.

Rankings are important — and many hospitals are tops in something — but rankings are not the only source you should be seeking when deciding where to have your operation. Rankings and quality report cards should be carefully weighed with other important criteria, including convenience, access and the skill, experience and bedside manner of the surgeon (or maybe a medical student in a teaching hospital) who is wielding that scalpel.

You need to be as close as possible to 100 percent comfortable with your decision before committing.

Source: WebMD

 

Price: Health care's next frontier

First it was quality. Then patient satisfaction. Say hello to health care's new competitive pressure: 

Price.

The Surgery Center of Oklahoma has gone all in on the price front. 

Need an Achilles repair? $5,730.

How about a cochlear Implant? $8,800.

A breast lymph node image will set you back $815.

This is "all inclusive" pricing — one charge for the surgery, the facility fee, the surgeon’s fee and anesthesiologist’s fee. 

One charge. One bill. Simple for the patient.

Have insurance? Read this disclaimer: 

NOTE: If you are scheduled for surgery at our facility and we are filing insurance for you, the prices listed on this website do not apply to you.   

NOTE: If you are scheduled for surgery at our facility and we are filing insurance for you, the prices listed on this website do not apply to you.

 

That's because your insurance provider (whether it be a government-supported program like Medicare or Medicaid or private insurance) negotiates its own rates. They may be higher or lower. And you may never know (but you should!).

The message here? Price is important. More patients are responsible for covering more of the cost of their procedures. That means they will care more and more about price.

So in addition to posting information about quality scores and patient satisfaction scores, hospitals and doctors will now need to consider posting pricing.

Source: 37Signals