-- Abraham Lincoln
When the government issues health care statistics there are usually two general responses from the constituencies that are influenced â€“ â€œthis shows a problem,â€ or â€œthe study is flawed.â€ And what ensues is a blame game, a political, polemical battle of op-eds and spin. What rarely happens is that all sides consider the implications of the numbers and use them to advance the public health. There are many examples of this, perhaps the best known being the debate over the Part D drug benefit.
But a new study, just released by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is breaking the mold. And itâ€™s about time. The report, based data on Medicare patients who died from heart failure between July 2005 and June 2006, ranks hospitals as to whether they fall above or below the average and the results are available and searchable on a federal Web site (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) that compares mortality rates among the nation's more than 4,000 medical facilities.
Needless to say, those scoring well crowed and those falling below the national average started the spin cycle. Examples were not hard to find â€“ thatâ€™s not news. What is important to discuss, on the other hand, is how some hospitals dealt with their below-average ranking. As I searched through the CMS database, I was surprised to find Baylor All Saints Medical Centers at Fort Worth Texas on the â€œbelow averageâ€ side. Having followed Baylor Health Care System over the years for a variety of reasons, I decided to look a little closer.
Here's the rest of the story:
"... if we want people to take more responsibility for their own health â€“ those in the business of health care must as well. Do as I say, not as I do just doesnâ€™t cut it when it comes to advancing Americaâ€™s health."
The price of greatness is responsibility.
-- Winston Churchill