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Plain English Guide Helps People Learn About Quality Health Care

National Business Group On Health publishes "Choosing the Right Hospital" toolkit with our help

Choosing the Right Hospital

By Molla Donaldson, DrPH, MS and Rebekah Donaldson

With all the talk of health reform, one issue that keeps coming up is that people should have access to affordable quality care. But how can we know what quality of care is when it is so complex? Part of the answer is to make quality of care information publicly available. Another part is to take the language of quality ("mortality" "risk" "variation" etc.) and translate it to plain English.


See the Toolkit and Employer's Guide we helped write
See the Toolkit and Employer's Guide we helped write. What do you think? Please comment in the Comments area below.

The National Business Group on Health has published “Choosing the Right Hospital,” an online toolkit developed to help people choose the hospital where they are likely to receive the best care. Molla Donaldson and I helped prepare it, under the leadership of National Business Group on Health President Helen Darling, and Director of Benchmarking & Analysis Karen Marlo.

We also developed a guide for Human Resources officers to help employees use the guide.

“We are grateful that Molla and Rebekah were able to lend their expertise to the development of these valuable tools for employers and employees alike,” said Darling. “Helping employees understand the importance of using quality hospitals and providing them with tools to do just that is imperative to improving the safety of care in our hospitals and helping to control health care costs.”

The National Business Group on Health is an association of many of the country’s largest self-insured businesses. Their website and publications provide a large employers’ perspective on national health policy issues and practical solutions to its members’ most important health care problems.

Through this project, I (Rebekah) learned how frequently medication errors, surgical mishaps, and other patient safety issues occur.  The Institute of Medicine (with Molla’s help in 2000) alerted the public to medical errors almost 10 years ago in a widely publicized report.  There was great hope that safety would improve.  But in a follow up study, the federal government’s 2008 National Healthcare Quality Report found that hospital patient safety measures have worsened by nearly 1 percent each year for the past six years.

When people can choose a hospital, it is most likely based on their insurance, where their doctor practices, and advice from family and friends – but this information may not be accurate.  There are good web sites now, and our work tried to make it easier to understand the quality and safety information–and what patients themselves report — at the federal government’s site, Hospital Compare.

We’ve written in the past about how organizations do well by doing good. The National Business Group on Health has merged doing well with doing good. Choosing the Right Hospital helps everyone compare quality and safety. We believe that the more people know about and insist on safe care, the more likely it is that health care will improve.



(Note: comments were imported 11/6/09 during migration from Wordpress)

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