When one is need of medical care, they often seek referral advice from a friend or relative. Another common source is internet databases. However, a new study has found that patient satisfaction ratings do not necessarily synch with hospital statistics for cancer surgery. In addition, it is likely that patient satisfaction is not a good indicator of care for other conditions such as heart surgery. The findings were published in the March 2015 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by researchers at Columbia University.
The study authors note that hospital-level measures of patient satisfaction and quality are now available online by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Compare website. Moreover, there are limited assessment methods specific to cancer patients. Therefore, they assessed whether publically reported hospital satisfaction and quality data were related to surgical oncologic (cancer treatment) outcomes.
The researchers accessed data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample was utilized to identify patients with solid tumors who underwent surgery in 2009 and 2010. Statistics regarding 63,197 patients treated at 448 hospitals were reviewed. For patients at high vs. low performing hospitals based on Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores. The hospitals were linked to Hospital Compare, which collects data on patient satisfaction, perioperative quality (quality of care before during, and following surgery), and 30-day mortality for medical conditions such as pneumonia, myocardial infarction (MIs; heart attacks), and congestive heart failure (CHF). The risk-adjusted hospital-level rates of morbidity (health problems) and mortality (death) were calculated for each hospital. The hospitals were divided into four groups based on patient satisfaction; the researchers found that those with the lowest ratings had an average complication rate of almost 22%, compared to almost 19% for those in the top fourth.
The patients also rated their overall experience on a 10-point scale and noted whether they would recommend the hospital to others. Based on responses to these last two questions, the investigators found that patient satisfaction ratings did not predict the risk of death or complications such as heart attack, cardiac arrest, blood clot or stroke at the rated hospitals.
The authors concluded that the currently available measurements of patient satisfaction and quality are poor predictors of outcomes for cancer patients undergoing surgery. They recommended that specific measurement techniques for long-term oncologic outcomes and quality are needed.
Take home message:
This study pointed out that patient satisfaction and surgical outcome are two different entities. Thus, patients who are made more comfortable in the hospital environment tend to give the hospital a higher rating. Although, tender loving care (TLC) is an important component of healthcare, the ultimate outcome is of the utmost importance. Angelenos are fortunate to have access to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, which has an excellent reputation nationally and internationally for its high level of care.