Category Archives: Metrics

America’s best hospitals: Finding one close to you

An earlier article on this blog talked about physician rankings. In this post let’s look at hospital rankings.

America’s best hospitals

There are various agencies and organizations that rank, index and grade american hospitals. Some of the well know ones are US News, Thomson Healthcare (top 100) and more recenlty web 2.0 sites like HealthGrades. The idea behind these rankings is to provide consumers a guide map to choosing hospitals.


Methodology that these publications and agencies use range from internally developed surveys to benchmarking databases and others use information that is collected and published by United States Department of Health and Human Services. US news ranks by specialty as their goal is to identify facilities that excel at treating variety of illnesses within a specialty, as opposed to just few procedures. US News uses data from the American Hospital Association survey of its members.

Web 2.0 application – Finding a hospital near you

Recently we came across a web based application that lets you search for hospitals in your neighborhood (by zip code) and tells you how good the hospitals perform on a variety of process measures that the hospital compare database (Department of Health and Human services)tracks. The best hospitals have green stop lights and the worst has red. We tried this on Washington DC area hospitals and here is what we came up with. Check it out for yourself.


Healthcare Metrics Vol. 2: Physician rankings

Emerging trends in healthcare: Physician Ranking systems

A previous post, on this site briefly touched on ‘Zagat survey style’(for those not familiar, the Zagat survey rates restuarants in the US and around the world) physician ranking systems making their presence felt in the websphere. Believe it or not, this is not a flash in the pan. Infact, there are several establish sites that already rank physicians. Some others are extending this to hospitals, but more on that later.For this post we will stick to physicians and providers.

N.Y. leads the way

Late last year, New York’s attorney general Andrew Cuomo announced a first-of-its-kind agreement with Cigna Corp. The plan is to establish an industry standard for the doctor-rating systems that health insurers increasingly use to guide consumers. While health plans and insurers have been doing this for years, public will now have access to how health plans measure and rate doctors in terms of quality of care and cost efficiency.

Sounds fair and square? So what is the caveat? If you are a health professional you will probably identify right away that there is a possibility that this might eventually steer patients to the cheapest, rather than the best doctors and services. UnitedHealth, for instance, gives doctors and hospitals that follow certain care guidelines and are cost-efficient a “UnitedHealth Premium” designation.

Quality or Cost ?

Jim Collins in his best selling book ‘Good to Great’ says that Good is the enemy of Great. However the same logic can not be applied here. Meaning, “Quality is not the enemy of cost”. If you are not convinced all you have to do is look at other industries. In the auto industry for instance, they have realized that at some point there is a tradeoff between quality and cost and so good quality at a reasonable cost has become widely accepted. Quality guru, Walter Massing states that the only viable policy is to concentrate on failure costs and to justify prevention measures for one problem at a time.

What consumers need to know and health 2.0 sites need to publish?

So where does all this lead? Healthcare providers have a stake in this and so they will need to brace themselves, start looking at quality of care and efficiency a little more seriously. The serious Health 2.0 sites need to start publishing performance / rating on a host of information besides bedside manners and pleasantness of physician (which are important, but do not provide any insight to the physician’s chances of success in the treatment process).

Here is a sample list of indicators that we need to look at to determine the best doctors/providers for our friends and family.

Customer satisfaction metrics:Bedside manners
Process metrics: Average wait times
Clinical quality and outcomes: Hospitalization rate and risk-adjust mortality
Other measures: Clinically integrated IT systems (known to influence medication and surgery risks)

Healthcare Metrics – Vol. 1


Measuring performance

What we cannot measure, we cannot manage. That is a proven adage, so have you ever wondered what healthcare report card will look like ? Or for that matter, if it is even possible to create such a report card and yet keep it simple?

In Healthcare we usually collect a lot of data related to different aspects of the business. Everything from clinical quality to outcomes and patient satisfaction is measured. On average any hospital in the US tracks over 100 indicators every year to gain insight into their practice, patient preferences and overall business. So creating a common report card that would work for even a handful of hospitals can become a tedious task.

Healthcare Report Card

Managment guru Tom Peters has created a healthcare report card to measure the state of US healthcare. He grades the overall system on 19 metrics or parameters. The beauty of this report card lies in it’s simplicity. The metrics have been chosen very carefully and the grading system is straight out of an elementary school test. The idea is to create a performance picture that is easy to understand and interpret.