What Americans Don't Know About Their Doctors and Hospitals May Be Putting Their Health at Risk

Two New Studies from Healthgrades Point to the Information Gap in Healthcare and the Importance of Consumer Access to Objective Measures of Quality

DENVER, Oct. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans spend more time researching a refrigerator than they do choosing a doctor or hospital, according to a national study released today by Healthgrades, the leading provider of information to help consumers make an informed decision about healthcare providers. The national survey of more than 7,600 American adults in 27 markets, conducted by Harris Interactive, reveals a stark contrast between the importance Americans say they place on their choice of a doctor or hospital and the little amount of time they actually spend researching their options. Taking the time to carefully review a hospital's performance can directly influence outcome of care – and statistics show that, in some cases, can mean the difference between life and death.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121023/NY98015-INFO )

Some of the surprising findings from the survey include:

  • We value our doctors:  Selecting a physician ranks second only to selecting a spouse for most Americans when ranking 8 key relationships
  • Yet, we make mistakes:  Only half of Americans have felt that they have made the right choice when selecting a doctor or hospital
  • And we prioritize proximity similar to survival: Consumers said a hospital's location is virtually as important to them as its mortality rate, at 83% and 87% important/very important, respectively

"It's somewhat shocking that we spend as much time researching a gym as we do our surgeons," said Archelle Georgiou, MD, a national healthcare expert and strategic advisor to Healthgrades on quality initiatives. "This kind of information could mean the difference between a smooth surgery and complications, or even worse, life and death. Consumers should do their homework before becoming a patient and take advantage of hospital and doctor performance information based on objective measures, such as complication rates and mortality at hospitals, as well as patient satisfaction information."

To better equip Americans with this important choice, Healthgrades today released the American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2013: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, an unbiased and thorough examination of hospital quality data. The report shines a light on how more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide performed on clinical outcomes for nearly 30 of the most common conditions and procedures, such as total knee replacement, stroke and heart failure.

These important findings were based on a three-year review (2009 – 2011) of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. For the first time – the report provides an overview of trends across the past five study periods, which includes data from years 2005-2011. This is also the first time Americans can directly link the selection of a doctor to the hospital where they practice, giving the consumer the power to differentiate the likelihood of a better health outcome on the basis of the hospitals objective quality measures, such as mortality, complications, safety and patient satisfaction.

Among the key findings from the American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2013 report:

  • Patients treated in hospitals receiving 5-Stars from Healthgrades have, on average, 75 percent lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals receiving 1-Star, based on risk-adjusted mortality rates (across 18 common procedures and diagnoses, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), stroke, and pneumonia).
  • Patients being treated in hospitals receiving 5-Stars have, on average, 61% lower risk of having a complication than if they were treated by hospitals receiving 1-Star (across 9 common procedures and diagnoses, such as total knee replacement surgery, gallbladder surgery, and spine surgery).
  • From 2005 to 2011, the nation's average in-hospital risk-adjusted mortality rate improved 22% across 16 of the common procedures and conditions studied by Healthgrades, such as COPD, heart failure and stroke.  

"Today's report is an important resource that provides relevant and reliable information in a responsible way that empowers Americans to make educated decisions about their physician and hospital selections," explains Roger Holstein, CEO of Healthgrades. "More than 20 million people turn to Healthgrades.com every month to find, evaluate and make an appointment with a doctor or hospital, and we are committed to making objective measures of quality more accessible to all Americans."

For more information about Healthgrades or to download a full copy of the full study and the American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2013: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, visit: www.Healthgrades.com today.

About the Consumer Survey Methodology

The 2012 Consumer Readiness Research study was conducted online within the United States from August 30, 2012, to September 12, 2012, by Harris Interactive on behalf of Healthgrades.  The survey queried 7,662 adults in the United States across 27 DMAs aged 18 and older, who have selected a physician in the past three years.  The data from the study was demographically weighted to reflect the census of the U.S. adults (regardless of whether they have internet access or not) across those DMAs.  The survey was designed to comply with the code and standards of the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO) and the code of the National Council of Public Polls (NCPP).

About Healthgrades

Healthgrades, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is a leading provider of comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. More than 200 million consumers use the Healthgrades websites, including Healthgrades.com and BetterMedicine.com, to research, select, and connect with a physician or hospital, and use its comprehensive information about clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, patient safety, and health conditions to make more informed healthcare decisions and take action. Facebook: www.facebook.com/HealthgradesInc. Twitter: @Healthgrades.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

SOURCE Healthgrades