Report spotlights hospital performance

    A new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council tracks hospital performance for more than 20 health conditions. Analysts say consumers can use the information to choose a hospital.

    A patient safety group says hospitals in southeast Pennsylvania have improved their ability to prevent heart failure patients from returning to the hospital. A new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council tracks hospital performance for more than 20 health conditions. Analysts say consumers can use the information to choose a hospital.

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    Congestive heart failure is one of the most common diagnoses for patients hospitalized in the southeast region. Kate Flynn is president of the Health Care Improvement Foundation. She says area hospitals are avoiding many heart failure readmissions by communicating with patients before they leave the hospital.

    Flynn: To make sure their prescriptions are filled, to make sure their doctor’s appointment is actually made, to arrange transportation to make sure they can get to their doctor’s appointment. All those things can help prevent the patient from rebounding right back into the emergency room four or five days later because they are back in congestive heart failure because they couldn’t keep it under control.

    When looking at readmissions related to complication or infection, every area hospital surveyed performed on-par or better than expected.

    The report includes hospital prices for more than 30 health conditions, but Flynn says the information can be misleading

    Flynn: A consumer is always better off contacting the hospital directly and talking about the procedure that’s being contemplated and working it out with the hospital individually. There’s just so much variation in terms of how pricing and charging is done.

    Flynn says the prices listed in the survey are billing charges. They do not reflect the discounts that the government and group health plans often negotiate with hospitals. According to the report, hospitals in the southeast region receive, on average, 22 cents for every dollar charged.

    Steven Carson is Vice President of Clinical Integration at Temple University Hospital, where he works to improve health care quality.

    He says the report reflects some re-admission rates that are higher than expected, but he says the information is a year out of date. Carson says since that time, the hospital has stepped-up its efforts and Temple now has a disease management program for patients with congestive heart failure.

    Carson: The very sickest of the sick of our heart failure patients are being followed up in our heart failure speciality program and we are also looking at the patients who need follow up care at home, making sure they take their medications, we have home health nurses going out.

    Carson expects the program to lower the number of heart patients who rebound back to the hospital.

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