UTMB Health (UTMB)
July 11, 2016
GALVESTON, Texas – The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which in 2015 started posting quality, safety and satisfaction information on its website, is one of a small percentage of hospital systems across the nation that are self-publishing this kind of data.
As part of its commitment to provide useful information, UTMB makes available a broad range of measures and ratings at www.utmb.edu/qualityresults. Visitors to the site can access measures on outcomes by disease, complications, length of stay, readmission rates, mortality rates, patient satisfaction, physician ratings, and UTMB awards and accreditations.
“UTMB is really taking the lead in being transparent with meaningful measures and public reporting of quality data,” said Mark Kirschbaum, chief quality, safety and clinical information officer at UTMB. “We are one of the few hospitals doing this because we feel that being able to see the data will help patients make decisions about their health providers, and it will help us as we strive to be better day after day. That is why we share information on areas where we are doing very well, as well as where we can improve. This focus has allowed us to improve our performance in the past two years.”
Quality measurement is relatively new to the health care industry. While it potentially provides large amounts of information for patients, it could be confusing since hospitals do not all provide the same kind of health care services. For example, some hospitals may not treat or be able to treat patients with complex medical conditions.
A challenge UTMB and many other university-based hospitals face is that, as safety net hospitals, they provide care for patients with few or no hospital or physician access options and little social support. Patients with little social support once out of the hospital are more likely to have complications. They may not be able care for themselves or may not have someone who can help them. Some patients could have trouble getting to and from follow-up appointments, to the pharmacy or face other barriers. These and other variables could lead to a patient being readmitted to the hospital. Because measures such as readmissions, length of stay and complications can be influenced by patient resources, comparisons between hospitals may be skewed.
Still, these measures and results are an important tool for patients and for UTMB.
Visitors to UTMB’s Quality Results site are able to see how previous patients rated their experience with UTMB’s physicians, staff, hospitals and clinics. For instance, approximately three out of four patients give UTMB the highest rating when asked to rate their experience.
Visitors to the site can access patient ratings on communication with nurses and doctors, responsiveness of staff, management of pain and physician ratings, among other information. Even more detailed results are available about physician’s clinic ratings in UTMB’s Find a Doctor directory at doctors.utmbhealth.com.
In all these measurements, UTMB’s results are compared to those of other institutions to provide context and help the viewer understand how UTMB compares to other academic medical centers.
The information also serves to help UTMB find areas for improvement. Results and measurements are posted even when UTMB is not performing as well as other institutions.
“UTMB is committed to being transparent with meaningful measures and public reporting of quality measurements,” said Donna K. Sollenberger, executive vice president and chief executive officer of UTMB’s health system. “UTMB is implementing a targeted plan to be one of the best academic medical centers within 18 months, and we’ve already seen improvements in areas such as readmission and complications rates.”