5 Striking Numbers from Healthgrades' Quality Study

Hospital quality data could have a big impact on how patients consume healthcare, but in a report released alongside the search revamp, Healthgrades makes the case that steering patients to only the most competent physicians can have wider implications for the healthcare system.

The healthcare ratings website Healthgrades this week launched a revamp of its search function, which now gives users the tools to look beyond stated physician specialties and find out what types of patients a physician sees most often and what types of procedures she performs the most.

This type of data could have a big impact on how patients consume healthcare, but in a report released alongside the search revamp, Healthgrades makes the case that steering patients to only the most competent physicians can have wider implications for the healthcare system.

“Healthgrades 2015 Report to the Nation contributes more evidence that reveals focusing on quality improvement can improve not only patient outcomes, but also a hospitals’ bottom line,” the report states.

The backbone of Healthgrades’ hospital rating system is a star system. Hospitals with clinical outcomes that align with statistical averages are given 3 stars. Those with significantly better performance get 5 stars. Hospitals with significantly worse performance get 1 star.

Those ratings provide the basis for Healthgrades’ report, which can be downloaded here. However, we’ve pulled out 5 of the most striking statistics from the document.

85.2% Lower Risk of Dying

Patients who undergo Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery in hospitals rated “5-star” by Healthgrades had an 85.2% lower risk of dying than people who had the same procedure at a 1-star hospital. The number is based on data from 2011-2013.

228,426 Lives Saved

If every hospital had had clinical outcomes similar to 5-star hospitals from 2011-2013, Healthgrades estimates that 228,426 lives could potentially have been saved and 169,298 complications could have been avoided. Those numbers are based on 3-year estimates from Medicare patients.

$10,279

That’s the difference between average hospital costs for carotid surgery patients who suffer complications ($17,248) and those who don’t ($6.969). The number is significant because Healthgrades found the chance of a complications from carotid surgery jumps 69.6% when a patient visits a 1-star hospital versus a 5-star hospital.

5.6 days

The average number of days added to a hospital stay for a gallbladder surgery patient who suffers complications. That figure is risk-adjusted, meaning Healthgrades attempted to account for patients who might be at particularly high risk. The report looked at 5 possible complications in each of 4 common procedures. Gallbladder surgery complications had the highest hospital stay extension rates. As with carotid surgery, this is important because the chance of a complication when a patient has the surgery at a 1-star hospital is 51.8% higher versus the chance of complication at a 5-star facility.

130% Higher Costs

Patient mortality is not only devastating to the patient and his family, it can also have a direct impact on a hospital’s bottom line. Healthgrades found the average direct hospital costs for a patient surviving colorectal surgery was $10,772. Patients who did not survive had an average direct cost of $24,346.