Why Quality Counts by Allen Weiss, MD, President

Dr. ALlen Weiss, MD, MBA, FACP, FACR

by Allen Weiss, MD, MBA, FACP, FACR
President, NCH Healthcare System

September 6, 2006 - Why is the initial decision you make about where to go for healthcare so important in determining your health? According to HealthGrades.com, one of the nation’s leading hospital evaluators, the top 5% of hospitals in the country as measured by information reported objectively to an independent organization have a 27% lower mortality rate than the remaining 95% of hospitals. This is a pretty bold statement but HealthGrades has published the clinical evidence on their website (http://www.healthgrades.com/)

Go ahead, check out the website. You will be joining about two thirds of the rest of the country who use the internet at some point during a healthcare encounter. Times have changed. Using the historical methods to find a physician, such as word of mouth or calling the local medical society or hospital referral service, have been replaced by the internet. Currently, most everyone consults the internet to see who has Board Certification (American Board of Medical Specialties – ABMS - http://www.abms.org/) or whether a hospital is rated in the top 100 in their area of medical need (Solucient - http://www.solucient.com/).

What do most patients look for in a physician? According to ABMS a good doctor knows the best treatments, works with you, communicates well, continues to learn, is someone you can trust, and provides good service. These are all wonderful attributes but, deserve objective information on outcomes. What will my chances be of surviving or having a better outcome by choosing one pathway over another? How up to date is the treatment I’m about to receive? Is there evidence to prove this is the optimal course to follow?

Continuing with the thought of taking advantage of information available on the internet, one should be aware that there are government supported sites which can be found just by using Google with the search words, “Florida physician’s quality” to come up with an early version of the Florida State site: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/profiling/index.html. With time, this site will mature to include specific details as to outcomes and performances. Of course, it will protect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient, but the aggregate outcomes will be presented in such a way that it will be understandable simply by visiting the website.

The NCH Healthcare System, with both its Downtown Naples Hospital Campus and North Naples Hospital Campus, has had the honor of receiving fourteen quality awards over the past two-and-a-half years. From cardiac care to stroke treatment to “most improved” during the period 1999 to 2004, NCH has proven to be in the top 5% for two years in a row. These awards, while prestigious, really reflect the bottom line to a patient—you have a better chance of surviving and not having a complication by being cared for in a hospital that demonstrates quality. 



Dr. Allen Weiss is President of the NCH Healthcare System. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Geriatrics, and was in private practice in Naples, Florida from 1977 - 2000. Dr. Weiss is active in a variety of professional organizations and boards, and has been published in numerous medical journals, including the American Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.