Lost Lives and Saved Lives

As Al Lewis of Quizzify likes to say, “just because it’s healthcare doesn’t mean it’s good for you.” Healthcare in the United States is often a complex maze fraught with opacity, confusion, and layers upon layers of bureaucracy. What Lewis is pointing to is that while the perception is that more healthcare can lead to better health, less it typically better. Just being in a hospital carries a significant risk of infection and/or further illness. And the incentives for hospitals (both non-profit and for-profit) in the fee-for-service environment favors keeping you sick. Hospitals bring in additional revenue of $39,000 on average for every complication and readmission due to poor quality of care rendered. Not to mention the risk of death goes up significantly. Quite simply, it is safer to jump out of an airplane than to be admitted to your local hospital.

How do you know if your hospital is safe?

When you need to seek care, how do you know where to go? Do you go to your insurance company’s website and search their network directory? Do you go to the closest facility? Do you choose based upon reputation? Using these heuristics can easily be a life or death decision.

The non-profit and independent, Leapfrog Group, publishes a list of safety grades for hospitals across the U.S. It is a standard bearer for safety metrics in the industry and updates its list annually. Hospitals are graded A through F with an easy-to-navigate website for reference.  

How important are these grades? A recently published joint report between the Leapfrog Group and John Hopkins finds that the risk of death for hospitals ranked D or F is double that of A-rated facilities. If hospitals with D or F grades performed at the A level, we could prevent 50,000 deaths each year.

Where do we go?

In healthcare, there is an inverse relationship between quality care and cost of care. Just by improving the access and quality of healthcare to your population, you will necessarily reduce your health care spend. This means lower deductibles, lower premiums, and improved care.

The fixes exist, we just need to seek out those evidence-based strategies made open-source via the Health Rosetta.