Methods used to evaluate hospitals when receiving state accreditation do not account for many factors that play a part in the success of a medical facility, according to a study conducted by two University researchers.
University public health Profs. John Griffith and Jeffrey Alexander compared hospital evaluation scores submitted by Solucient LLC, a health care information systems firm and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals in a study released last week.
Griffith said there are serious discrepancies in hospital certification methods.
“There is no escaping the fact that the risk of an unfortunate event is much higher in some hospitals rather than others,” Griffith said.
Five out of seven suggested measurements encompassing Griffith”s and Alexander”s “balanced scorecard” theory correlate financial standing and the safety and quality of care of the hospital.
Paul Schyve, JCAHO senior vice president, said this linkage is difficult to assume because of the health care market and it has not been scientifically proven.
“The linkage between finances and quality of product may be different in other industries,” Schyve said. “I wouldn”t challenge that assertion in most other industries. There is a unique aspect in health care that makes it hard to extrapolate from other industries because health care doesn”t work in the same market.”
This strangeness of the market is due to the fact that the consumer isn”t the same as the purchaser, said Schyve.
Darryl Horton, director for the division of licensing and certification for the state Department of Consumer and Industry Services, said he has observed a direct link between finances and quality of care.
“I think it should be weighed a little more heavily because a sound financial basis for a hospital will affect them,” Horton said.
“For hospitals that become financially strapped, quality of service could start to suffer,” he said.
Shon Dwyer, interim director of corporate quality improvement for the University Hospital, said the “balanced scorecard” theory is a reliable way to view the overall health of a hospital.
“It”s a picture and you can”t take your finances out of the picture,” she said. “What the public can see in terms of the balanced scorecard approach, I don”t think we should hide.”
Griffith firmly believes that the financial aspect is a critical factor to consider when choosing a hospital.
“I think you would want to go to a hospital that has enough money to buy new equipment and train new people, that is not in danger of closing its doors because they ran out of money,” said Griffith.
While Schyve disputes the legitimacy of including financial assessment of hospitals, he did acknowledge they have an investigation underway that examines the use of finances in the accreditation process.