June 25, 2008

National Hospital Study Praises Blake and Sarasota Memorial

By Donna Wright, The Bradenton Herald, Fla.

Jun. 25--When it comes to value, Blake Medical Center and Sarasota Memorial Hospital are tops in the two-county area, according to a national study released Tuesday.

The Hospital Value Index claims to be the first scorecard ranking U.S. hospitals on the value of the care they provide to their patients.

Manatee Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Doctors Hospital of Sarasota were also included in the study, but their scores were not available Tuesday.

The results were not a surprise to Dan Friedrich III, chief executive officer of Blake Medical Center.

"Though I'm not familiar with this organization or their data sources, it does not surprise me to learn that they rated Blake among the best for value," Friedrich said. "Every day, we strive to improve human life through the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective health care in the communities we serve."

Sarasota Memorial Hospital officials were pleased to be one of the top two hospitals, but Judy Milne, director of quality and patient safety, said no single comparison study can give consumers a full picture of how a hospital operates.

Developed by Data Advantage, LLC, a health care research company, the index determined a hospital's value by looking at publicly reported data in four areas:

--Quality of care.

--Efficiency of its care.

--Patient satisfaction surveys.

--Its overall reputation.

"In an environment where patients, employers and payers shoulder an increasing burden of the cost of health care, it is important to recognize hospitals that deliver outstanding value," said John R. Morrow, a senior adviser to Data Advantage.

Morrow thinks the index will be an important tool for consumers and for the government as the Centers for Medicare Services moves toward a performance-based reimbursement system to pay hospitals.

Milne said the index is just one tool consumers can use, and it may not be the easiest for patients to understand.

"I don't think there is a magic in any of these sites or reports that would lead a consumer to say, 'I am going to this hospital over another,' " she said. "Details can be confusing."

Moody Chisholm, chief executive officer of Manatee Memorial Hospital said the marketplace is flooded with hospital-comparison sites.

"There are a lot of entrepreneurs trying to get in on the front end of the transparency data," Chisholm said. "But there are a lot challenges in the details with statistics."

For example, Chisholm said, he heard about one Florida hospital that had perfect scores for its open heart surgery program. Trouble was, the hospital didn't have an open heart program, so it didn't have any mortalities or infections, Chisholm said.

Consumers need to check several databases before choosing a hospital, said Richard Rasmussen, spokesman for the Florida Hospital Association.

"Check and balance all reporting services, whether privately or publicly provided," Rasmussen advises. "Don't make a decision on one report."

But Hal Andrews, the head of Data Advantage, says hospitals should use the index to their own advantage.

For more information visit www.HospitalValueIndex.com.


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