The folks at the Oklahoma Hospital Association might want to get together with the Commonwealth Fund to see if they can borrow a URL for their hospital quality Web site.
Using the two-letter abbreviation for the state name, the Oklahoma association’s just-launched site providing quality and safety information on 80 local hospitals promises “OKHospitalQuality.” On the other hand, the Commonwealth Fund’s almost-as-new site displaying quality information on hospitals nationwide boldly asks “WhyNotTheBest?”
In both cases, however, visitors will largely see repackaged HospitalCompare measures from CMS and the standardized H-CAHPS patient satisfaction survey from AHRQ. The Oklahoma association claims its site is easier to use than that of CMS, and they’re right. For instance, it’s simple to look at state benchmarks and multiple hospitals at the same time.
You might wonder why a trade group from a state whose entire population amounts to about 10 percent the number of Medicare beneficiaries does a better job of making data accessible to consumers than CMS. You might also wonder whether the CMS site’s failings affect its ability to pull visitors. While I can’t speak to the first question, Quantcast figures show that HospitalCompare draws a little under 42,500 people each month, down from about 208,000 in mid-September, when the site was being advertised. WhyNotTheBest is too new for Quantcast to have much information, but HealthGrades draws about 2.3 million individuals a month. A little math shows us that at this rate, it will take four and one quarter years for HospitalCompare to draw as many visitors in total as HealthGrades does in one month.
In addition, HealthGrades visitors are most likely to also visit physicianreports.com, vitals.com or checkmd.com, which are also rating sites. HospitalCompare’s top-ranked correlation is with ipro.gov — the people who designed the WhyNotTheBest site which is based on data from HospitalCompare. Maybe they could just Facebook each other?
Oh, yes: while WhyNotTheBest makes it easy to compare an individual hospital to a long list of benchmarks, and it has a sleek and modern design, you can’t compare two hospitals to each other on the same screen. To be fair, I believe that’s because that the site is not designed for persnickety patients, despite its catchy name. Instead, the purpose is to make it easy for individual hospitals to assess their own performance as a prelude to improving it. Having worked with IPRO in the past, they have a great database for doing just that.On the other hand, perhaps a consumer who finds out her preferred hospital is NOT the “best” will decide just not to have any medical care at all. Or, for “OK” care, go to Oklahoma.
(PS: Meanwhile, rating individual practitioners remains a tricky business. The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported the second libel suit filed by a provider against a patient for posting a negative review on Yelp. The cases, from a chiropractor and pediatric dentist, were both “settled,” the newspaper said.
Of course, the entry of Zagat into the doctor-rating business offers intriguing other possibilities, as this satire, “Enjoy the ‘sassy receptionists’ and ‘dog-eared Hustlers…” suggestively suggests.)