Five-star Hospital: Is it all About Patient Experience?

If you’re planning to stay at a hotel you have not visited before, it’s de rigeur to check out the hotel ratings at TripAdvisor. The five-star rating ranges from 1 star Terrible to 5 stars Excellent. A rating is also given for the following parameters: sleep quality, location, rooms, service, value and cleanliness. Reviews are even classified according to the type of traveler: families, couples, solo and business.

At the #PCP15 conference I was attending, I ran across someone working in government and healthcare. He asked, What about a TripAdvisor for hospitals? I listened as he expounded on the idea. My thought bubble though was – That’s a good topic for the next #HealthXPh tweet chat on May 16 9 pm PHT!

A recent article by Jordan Rau in Kaiser Health News began with –

In an effort to make comparing hospitals more like shopping for refrigerators and restaurants, the federal government has awarded its first star ratings to hospitals based on patients’ appraisals.

You can look at the 11-question survey on patient experiences from Medicare.gov here.

The survey asks a random sample of recently discharged adult patients to give feedback about topics such as how well nurses and doctors communicated, how responsive hospital staff were to patient needs, how well the hospital managed patients’ pain, and the cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment. Patients are the best sources of information on these topics.

I would agree that patients should be able to rate their hospital experiences and that these ratings be made available to others like a caveat emptor. But I agree as well that patient experiences as important as they are, cannot be the sole measure for evaluating hospital quality.

Years ago, a government hospital launched a campaign – Magaling Na, Magalang Pa. Translated it means, Excellent but Courteous Too. This hospital only accepted the brightest doctors but sadly, they were not always polite or respectful. The patients who came to the hospital seemed willing to accept this. They often excused the doctors for having no time for such niceties with so many patients needing to be served. They were willing to sacrifice a gracious bedside manner in exchange for impeccable medical care. It can be argued that these patients suffer willingly as they cannot afford to go anywhere else. Because they receive free medical care, they also do not expect too much from their doctors except to get better. What do you think?

Let’s discuss the following at #HealthXPh tweet chat.

T1 What do you think of an online hospital rating system akin to TripAdvisor?

T2. What are the parameters to be assessed when patients rate a hospital?

T3. How much weight should government put on such online hospital rating systems in regulating quality?

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