Abundance of Healthcare Quality Awards Weakens Marketing Value

Marianne Aiello, May 8, 2013

One-third of US hospitals have garnered at least one distinction from a major rating group or company. With so many other organizations receiving similar accolades, how can promoting a top quality award have any real meaning?

I don't come across news articles or press releases touting a hospital or health system's quality scores as often as I used to. So when I came across an article about the quality measures that UT Southwestern Medical Center has decided to post on its website, it got me thinking.

First, the relative lack of media coverage must mean that most organizations are already listing their quality ratings online, are doing so quietly, or are moving away from the practice altogether .

MU proposed rules

Second, I was struck by this seeming contradiction: The medical center's chief quality officer told the reporter, "Some [health systems] put [quality data] out there for marketing reasons. We're just trying to help patients make choices about where they get their healthcare."

While statements like this aren't uncommon, I can't help but roll my eyes at a hospital leader telling a media outlet that he's not doing the thing that's being publicizing for marketing purposes.

But finally, and most importantly, I noticed that the article did not mention of the source of the quality metrics.

Upon further investigation on UT Southwestern's quality webpage, I discovered that it uses data from Hospital Compare, HCAHPS, Press Ganey, the University HealthSystem Consortium, the National Healthcare Safety Network, and the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators.


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