Many of Philadelphia’s hospitals and doctors have rightly earned the distinction of being the best in the region or the country in treating the over 13,000 ways our bodies can fail. However, it is well recognized that the quality of care based on outcomes varies greatly among hospitals and doctors. Whereas complex procedures that require sophisticated training and equipment are rare, most medical care is for conditions that are more common. Most conditions have established scientifically based best practice and guidelines. These guidelines provide the knowledge and help attain the skills to achieve excellent results.
It is therefore a reasonable expectation that outcomes for similar conditions, regardless where the care is provided, should have similar outcomes. This is not necessarily what happens. This is particularly important because when it comes to getting treated for many medical conditions that require emergency care (heart attacks, stroke, and trauma) we cannot choose the hospital to receive care. We have little information about the ambulance service that will provide initial care. Therefore our goal must be that all hospitals are top hospitals in the areas they chose to provide care.
Quality of care varies greatly among hospitals. Complications from common procedures and high readmission rates are serious concerns at many of our nation’s healthcare institutions. Simply put, if you require medical attention, there is no guarantee you will leave the hospital in better health than when you entered thanks to sub-par or inconsistent care.
Unless these failings within the hospital system are publicly reported, we cannot expect any real change within the system. There have been many efforts to provide consumers with information on hospital safety, but too often the approach has been misguided. We cannot predict when and where we will need emergency care. Patients often do not have the time or resources to research
which hospital best suits their needs or has the best care as they would other consumer choices.
That is why we as citizens must ensure that all hospitals are top hospitals, capable of providing the care and services needed to achieve optimal healthcare outcomes.
What if all hospitals and healthcare providers embraced best practice, scientifically established to achieve the best outcomes?
What if best practice included the role of the patient in patient centric care?