Lumpy Gravy: the Lack of Uniformity in Hospital Performance

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lumpy-gravy-1050x800-mpiricaSince we’re embarking into the holiday season, let’s talk about gravy!

I don’t know about you, but when I think about gravy, I think of a golden liquid with smooth even consistency throughout. But as any cook knows, gravy is rarely uniform. While there are spots that are smooth and perfect, more often than not, there are plenty of lumps.

It’s exactly the same with hospitals.

Perception is Not Reality

When we think about hospitals, we tend to think “oh, that’s a good/bad hospital” based on the hospital’s public image and reputation. The reality is that the performance of most hospitals, like gravy, is lumpy; the quality of different procedures in the same hospital is far from uniform.

Having analyzed outcomes across thousands of hospitals, MPIRICA has observed one simple fact: hospital performance can’t be aggregated. Depending on the specific procedure or procedure class, a hospital might be a top, mediocre, or bottom tier performer, and those performances are independent of its reputation.

Lumps in Your Gravy

To demonstrate this idea, we can walk through an example. Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston is consistently considered one of the best hospitals in the country; in fact, this year, US News and World Report named it THE top hospital in the nation. And looking at the hospital’s quality scores across a number of procedures on the MPIRICA system, you can see they are generally fair to excellent across nearly all of their procedures.

However, if you are in need of knee, hip or carotid artery procedures, their quality scores should give you pause. Each of these procedures have a score below 400, which means they have demonstrated below average performance and you may be exposing yourself to unnecessary risks.

It’s probably worth mentioning here that the MPIRICA Quality Score is backed by three decades of medical quality analysis expertise, and calculated using only actual clinical outcomes. If you like, you can find out more about how we score hospitals and surgeons.

Buried Treasures

On the other end of the spectrum is University of Toledo Medical Center, which was highlighted by The Atlantic Magazine in April as one of the “worst performers in the state, if not the country” based on their rates of infections and complication. While MPIRICA’s quality scores indicate UTMC is a bottom tier of demonstrated performance in coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) as well as knee replacement (the latter of which was specifically called out in the Atlantic Magazine article), the hospital is actually a top tier performer for balloon angioplasty.

This is the level of quality transparency that will inform healthcare decisions for both consumers and employers, and is something that has not been widely available until recently. Being able to access easy-to-understand, outcomes-based, procedure-level data is what will help everyone make smarter healthcare decisions.