There’s been a lot of buzz around hospital systems lately—mostly about mergers and acquisitions and consolidations. But something else has been making headlines recently in the hospital system world: quality. More specifically, the industry is questioning whether or not the number of times a procedure has been performed is an accurate indicator of quality.
Currently, three major hospitals are making waves over their announcement that they are “moving to establish minimum-volume standards that would prevent hospitals and surgeons from performing common procedures that they do infrequently,” according to this article in the Baltimore Business Journal. Naturally, this controversial decision is getting a lot of press.
So why are these hospitals “taking the plunge”?
Well, it turns out that frequency is an accurate quality indicator, and it has a significant influence on injury, death, and extended hospital care statistics. That’s why Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and the University of Michigan have all decided to make procedure frequency a cornerstone of their surgery departments.
There’s a plethora of evidence out there suggesting the correlation between frequency performed and quality, justifying the move these three large hospital systems are making to establish standards based on procedure frequency, including their own extensive studies cited in the article.
The same article in the Baltimore Business Journal cited a stunning statistic highlighted in the US News report, “Risks Are High at Low-Volume Hospitals.” The report reveals that “11,000 deaths between 2010 and 2012 could have been prevented if patients who went to low-volume hospitals had instead been treated at high-volume hospitals.” And this analysis only focused on five common procedures.
Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and the University of Michigan conducted research on a list of ten common procedures and found similar results. And if there were an analysis conducted on the top 100 procedures, it would likely reveal even more grueling statistics.
There is currently no mandate requiring hospitals to share procedure frequency data with consumers, nor are there regulations based on frequency dictating which providers can perform surgery. So what can healthcare consumers do to protect themselves?
Our price transparency platform isn’t just about providing unbiased pricing information to healthcare consumers—it’s a platform devoted to giving healthcare consumers detailed pricing and critical quality information.
At MyMedicalShopper we’ve long believed that the number of times a test or procedure is performed by a provider is one of the strongest indicators of quality, which is why our platform has included frequency data for the thousands of tests and procedures in our database since our first beta version. Used alongside national hospital quality survey data and user-generated reviews and ratings, number of times performed helps our users truly understand the quality of the facility on an individual procedure level. You can even search and filter results on our website and mobile app based on the number of times a test or procedure has been performed by a provider (see images below). It’s just another way MyMedicalShopper is looking out for you—the healthcare consumer.