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Health Advice
by Dr. Weiss

Jan 22, 2018
Quality matters. Better health for everyone should be America’s goal. Where you live and receive your healthcare services makes a difference in your health.

Fortunately, objective understandable quality metrics are now easily available at www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html.  This easy-to-use website created by the federal government to help potential patients facilitate comparisons among hospitals is based on fifty-seven well-defined metrics.  Adding rationality to decision making in determining where to go for care has the added benefit of improving performance for all hospitals because every healthcare system will have the extra motivation to improve its “grades.” 

Better performance also translates system wide to fewer complications, decreased waste, and lower costs.  All of these attributes contribute to a healthier America and the ability to transfer resources previously regarded as “waste” in healthcare to other worthwhile endeavors such as education, infrastructure, safety, and environmental protection.

NCH’s ranking as the only top Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Five-Star healthcare system in Southwest Florida, placing us among the other 7% of outstanding health systems in America, requires diligence, expertise, and a passion to always improve.  We are one of only five in Florida and 337 in America at the top ranking. 

CMS’s most recent healthcare system/hospitals star-ratings are based on seven major measures (mortality, safety, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, and imaging) and fifty-seven sub-categories.  Fair, transparent, timely, and important measures easily understandable for patients, care-givers, and payers as well as all interested in value (defined as quality divided by cost) are necessary if we, as a nation, want to improve.

Healthcare is the largest industry by far in America, consuming 17.8% of the GDP at $3.2 trillion dollars and growing.  If the U.S. healthcare industry were considered a country, it would be the fifth largest in the world behind the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany.  U.S. healthcare is larger than the United Kingdom.  U.S. healthcare perennially ranks last in healthcare of the eleven most developed nations.   http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2017/jul/mirror-mirror-international-comparisons-2017

NCH’s team of 4,300 caring and competent colleagues, 800 physicians, 87 Nurse Practitioners and 98 Physician Assistants worked hard for this CMS Five-Star accomplishment and now are pleased to share our best practices and learnings with others.  Living off past reputation and perceived greatness, embellished and polished by extensive marketing, is no longer rational, effective, or fair to a naïve, stressed sick person.  The most venerable institutions are now the most vulnerable.

Clear metrics such as heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia, and post-operative mortality rates objectively differentiate potential outcomes based on where you go for care.  All of this data is adjusted for age and severity of illness and, although the system is not perfect, it is the best we currently have, with all institutions having the same grading system.

Additionally and arguably, even more important than being a repair shop, alert healthcare systems should be focused outside the four walls of their institutions.  NCH is the sponsor of the very successful Blue Zones Project for Southwest Florida.  We have been recognized as the healthiest and happiest community in the nation for two consecutive years; adding 0.2 years of life-expectancy is unique in America.  Sadly, the rest of the nation’s life-expectancy has decreased for the second year in a row.  This decline hasn’t happened since 1963. 

Moreover, all of the NCH Physician Group offices and NCH Imaging centers are Joint Commission Certified, adding another layer of safety and quality—further differentiating us from other facilities in Southwest Florida.

Life has changed.  Where you get care matters.  Do your homework and add to your life expectancy.  America can have better care for everyone now using accessible digital transparency.