Monday, March 8, 2010

Cost Effective, Quality, Safe Care Must Be Part of the Med's Plan

Merely waiving co-pays and deductibles is not enough to accomplish what The Commercial Appeal's editorial says the Med must do: "The Med has to convince potential paying patients that it's a quality alternative for medical care."

Waiving co-pays and deductibles reduces financial barriers for patients, but in no way ensures that the care they receive is efficient, high quality, and safe. People should have information on the cost and quality of care at the Med to decide if the waived financial requirements are "worth it". But much of the cost and quality information that is available for all the other hospitals in Memphis is not available for the Med because the Med does not publicly report this information through The Leapfrog Group's Annual Hospital Survey (click here to get results for other Memphis hospitals).

Information that is publicly available on the Med's quality of care shows that significant opportunities for improvement exist. For example, recently released statistics on central line infections in ICUs shows that in 2008, the Med's rate of infection was approximately 238% above the average (click here to read Consumer Reports Health article and click here to get State of Tennessee report) . The Med indicates that they have been addressing this issue, but it would be good for us to know what progress they have made in bringing the infection rate down. If the Med reported to The Leapfrog Group survey, we would know how effective their improvement efforts have been and could track their progress.

In addition, the Med's scores on patient experience of care measures from Medicare's survey for the 12-months ending March 2009 show that only 56% of the patients would "definitely recommend" the hospital to others (compared to a national and statewide 68% average).

Finding a financial solution to the Med's situation is essential, but the Med owes us cost-effective, high quality, and safe care. They owe us this under all circumstances, but especially if they are going to offer us financial incentives to use their services. It is not right to ask people to make the decision to come to the Med based only on the fact that they will "save money". The Med should participate, as all other Memphis hospitals do, in the Leapfrog survey so people can decide if the quality of care they are likely to receive is worth saving money because there are no co-pays or deductibles.

Click here to read the latest Commerical Appeal editorial.

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