Poorer Patient Experience at Safety-Net Hospitals

Worse performance on nearly every measure of patient experience; discrepancy persisted over time

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Safety-net hospitals (SNHs) perform worse on nearly every measure of patient experience, according to a study published online July 16 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

To determine performance and patient-related hospital experience, Paula Chatterjee, M.P.H., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey of 3,096 U.S. hospitals, including 769 SNHs, from 2007 to 2010.

The researchers found that, on nearly all measures of patient experience, SNHs had lower performance than non-SNHs. Overall hospital rating had the greatest differences, with patients in SNHs less likely than those in non-SNHs to rate the hospital as a nine or 10 on a 10-point scale (63.9 versus 69.5 percent). Considerable discrepancies were also noted for the proportion of patients who received discharge information and who thought that they consistently communicated well with the physicians. Between 2007 and 2010, both groups of hospitals improved; however, the gap between the two groups increased, from 3.8 percent in 2007 to 5.6 percent in 2010. Compared with non-SNHs, SNHs were 60 percent less likely to meet value-based purchasing performance benchmarks for hospital payments.

"U.S. SNHs performed more poorly than other hospitals on nearly every measure of patient experience and gaps in performance were sizeable and persistent over time," the authors write. "These findings have important consequences for patients who receive care at these institutions and should renew our focus on helping these hospitals improve."

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