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Healthgrades 2018 Report to the Nation [PODCAST]

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The Hospital Finance Podcast

In this episode, Andrea Pearson, Chief Marketing Officer at Healthgrades, discusses their 2018 Report to the Nation which looks at variations in health outcomes for hospitals across the United States.
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Mike Passanante:  Hi! This is Mike Passanante. And welcome back to the Hospital Finance Podcast.

Today, I’m joined by Andrea Pearson, Chief Marketing Officer at Healthgrades where she is responsible for the Healthgrades brand and all marketing activities for consumers, physicians, and hospitals.

Andrea is here to talk with us about some of the findings revealed in the 2018 Healthgrades Report to the Nation.

Andrea, welcome to the program.

Andrea Pearson: Thank you very much. I’m happy to be here today.

Mike: Well, we’re happy to have you.

Andrea, first, for those in our audience who may not be familiar with Healthgrades, can you tell us what Healthgrades is?

Andrea: Of course! So, most people know Healthgrades or where we help more than a million people a day choose a hospital or a doctor. But our mission is to create meaningful connections between patients and providers. And to that end, we work with hundreds of hospitals across the nation to help them better understand their patient population, to help them reach those patients, and really engage with those patients over time.

So, that’s how those “meaningful connections” really come to life in our company today.

Mike: Thanks for that, Andrea. So, you joined us today because you’ve just published your 2018 Report to the Nation. Talk to us about what that report is and why you publish it.

Andrea: So, this is our 20th annual Report to the Nation. It’s the 20th year that we have published the state of clinical quality in American hospitals. And so, it’s a really important moment in time for us every year. Our Report to the Nation covers 4500 different hospitals nationwide and looks at clinical outcomes for 34 specific conditions and procedures.

This year, we did a little something different with the Report to the Nation. So rather than just to focus on clinical quality in hospitals, we tried to give perspective about the entire experience that a consumer navigates. And from the decisions about physician experience to hospital quality, patient satisfaction, those types of issues we’re really shining a spotlight on what goes into making an informed decision from a consumer perspective and how do hospitals take that information to take the right steps to really embrace new consumerism in their markets today.

Mike: And as you mentioned, you address hospital quality in the report. And perhaps not surprisingly, hospital quality has a lot to do with outcomes. But you found some very interesting things about that correlation. Can you tell us about that?

Andrea: Yes. You know, certainly, hospital quality is ultimately about did people get better, and did we limit complications and mortality risk. Certainly, those things get held above all others. But the correlations that we really look at are what’s the entire experience, what does a consumer really have to navigate in choosing the right physician, the physician with the most experience. Doing a hip revision, for example, which hospital has the lowest complication rate for orthopedic procedures.

And then, we look at the things that patients really pay attention to (and hospitals are increasingly paying attention to) which is measures of patient satisfaction. “Did I have a good experience?”

And we looked at about eight questions that we ask a million people a day on about those experiences. And that’s everything from “Was it easy to get an appointment?” to “Did my physician communicate with me effectively and well?” And you can imagine, all of those pieces carry over into the care that someone may receive in a clinic or in a hospital setting.

Mike: And I think you projected that there would be so many fewer readmissions or perhaps even deaths if each hospital rose to that five star quality rating, isn’t that right?

Andrea: That’s right. We see from the data that we look at that about 164,000 complications could have potentially been avoided if all hospitals performed really best in class and exceeded expectations.

And likewise, we see about 219,000 lives could’ve potentially been saved from really aspiring to give not just expected quality, but really exceeding and performing at the highest possible standard every year.

If you put that in perspective into a decision a consumer might make, there is great variability in clinical quality in hospitals today. And some hospitals are great at certain things, and others are great at other things. But I’ll give you a couple of very good specific examples.

If you were admitted at a hospital with pancreatitis, you have a 93% lower risk of dying at a five star rated hospital than if you were treated at a one star hospital. And that’s a pretty astonishing eye-opening number.

And then, to take that to a complication-based procedure, if you look at something like knee replacement, the hospitals that perform as a five star hospital were about 68% less likely to have a complication rate for those procedures.

So, those are eye-popping statistics. And we put that information in the hands of both hospitals and consumers because that’s how transparency really creates behavior change. It creates a more considered, careful decision by the consumer. And it shines a spotlight for hospitals to really be inspired and aspire to providing the most exceptional quality care that they can.

Mike: Indeed! And this year, Healthgrades introduced the National Health Index into its Report to the Nation. Can you explain what that is and how it’s derived?

Andrea: Absolutely! So, we paired the release of our clinical quality data this year with the Healthgrades National Health Index. The index was meant to bring the story up a level for consumers and to really make it easier to understand the data that we’re making transparent. We looked at four things.

So, we looked at two measures of healthcare (and that is what was the population’s access to primary care physicians, and what percent of the population is insured); then the second factor in healthcare was to take the hospital quality ratings that we’ve been discussing and put those into the index as well. So, all of the local hospitals in each city, their clinical quality ratings were included in the index.

And then, the last two factors we looked at are healthy decision making and risk-taking behaviors. So healthy decision making, it’s in all the social determinants of health. Am I exercising and eating right, really doing the best to take care of myself? And am I limiting the risky behaviors? Things like smoking and binge drinking are two good examples.

Mike: These days, information about healthcare providers is more widely accessible. And people actively seek that information as they evaluate which provider can best suit their needs.

In the report, you discuss how hospitals can help empower people on this journey. Tell us about.

Andrea: So, hospitals can really be very proactive in what is becoming an increasingly consumer-driven marketplace. And there are really three principles to how hospitals can approach and really make best advantage out of that change, that shift in behavior, and also make sure that they’re really meeting the needs of an increasingly discerning customer who is increasingly paying more of their own dollar for that care.

So, those three principles are:

First, the principle of transparency. And that transparency go through all thing. So can information about my physicians, what they practice, what they practice most, all of these data about them that’s out there, have I organized that and ensured that it’s accurate? That’s one part of transparency.

The other part of transparency go to things like creating transparency in clinical quality. So, while it can be daunting to imagine that you want to release to all of your consumers in your marketplace how you’re performing on a clinical quality basis, it can be a really important differentiator. And it’s critically important data. It can really begin to drive business change and business decisions when you commit to it.

I would say the emerging category within transparency is going to be around cost and how do we, as healthcare providers, provide a good, accurate, informative view of costs.

So, those make up the area or the principles of transparency;

The second principle is around accessibility. And in our terms, we think about accessibility as providing care at a place and a point time that’s convenient for that consumer and ensuring that you removed all the friction in the process.

Research and make appointments are good examples of creating higher accessibility. The ability to make a physician’s schedule public and allow consumers to self-schedule is an enormous satisfier for patients. And it just creates a lot more accessibility. It’s just easier to choose your physicians and to work with your health system;

And the last principle is around engagement. And increasingly, less of healthcare is going to happen in the traditional settings that we tend to think of—in a clinic or in a hospital setting. We’re taking urgent cares and new methods of meeting a consumer where they are in their communities.

But engagement has to go beyond that. Engagement, in the future, will have to reach consumers in the place where they live their daily lives to be able to influence and impact the decisions that are “Am I eating right? Am I exercising? Am I taking care of myself? Am I showing some signs that there should be some sort of clinical intervention?”

And the wonderful thing is that technology has given us a whole new set of tools. And there’s a lot of really compelling data sets out there to help you really personalize and reach people to engage them between the times that they’re in your clinic or in your hospital.

Mike: And Andrea, if someone wanted to get a copy of the Report to the Nation, where can they go?

Andrea: So, they can go to to get a copy of the Report to the Nation and also view the Healthgrade’s Health Index.

Mike: Andrea Pearson, thanks for joining us today on the Hospital Finance Podcast.

Andrea: Thank you very much.

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