Saturday, April 17, 2004

What they say

Community General Hospital was one of 132 hospitals nationwide that voluntarily participated in a patient survey undertaken by the federal government last year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) conducted a pilot project involving 61 hospitals in New York, 45 in Maryland, and 26 in Arizona.

CMS will use the project to develop a standard way of evaluating hospital performance by patients. When the project is finished, we can expect CMS to look for ways to link the how hospitals are paid to how well patients rate their care.

The CMS surveys were conduced on Community's medical-surgical patients who were discharged in December 2002 and January 2003. For obstetric patients, the sample was drawn from patients in the November 2002 and January 2003 period. Patients received a pre-survey letter, a mail-in questionnaire, and a thank you card. Those who did not return questionnaires received up to five follow-up telephone calls to improve the response. As a result, of the 900 Community patients who were surveyed, fully one-half responded (49.9%).

Patients were asked to score the hospital from 0 to 10 with 0 being the “worst possible” hospital experience and 10 being “best possible.” 35% percent gave Community a “perfect 10” and 63% scored “9 or 10.” Most people had very good experiences here, but surveys like this one help us focus on improving performance by using information from those who rated us less favorably.

The CMS survey results also suggest how we compare with other hospitals in the state and nation. For example, on the “worst possible/ best possible” question, 59% of the patients scored “9 or 10” among the 61 New York hospitals that participated.

We looked at another survey this week at a meeting of the Medical Executive Committee. That survey, conducted at a recent meeting of the Medical Staff, helps us understand physician opinion. This is a snapshot of the views of the doctors on whom we depend for patient referrals and medical management.

In all 52 physicians completed the survey, and they said the quality of physician care at Community is comparable to other hospitals – one-fifth reported it as “better.” Only 2% forecast a decrease in their work at Community with 23% saying they anticipate using Community more in the future.

One question asked: “Is Community's image in 2004 better, worse or the same as 2002?” In reviewing the results this week, one Department Chairman said he was pleased that 69% of the doctors think our image improved. “And I think that’s right,” he said. “Community is better.”

This text was originally sent to the employees of Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY, as one of a series of letters from the CEO. The text was subsequently posted on the CEO's blog, More than Medicine, started in June 2007.