April 2015 Newsletter

An article in the March issue of Health Affairs argues that national hospital ratings systems share few common scores and may generate confusion instead of clarity. The article, which included Consumer Reports' Hospital Safety Score in its assessment of four ratings systems, attracted media coverage from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and BMJ, among others -- and has been a topic of lively discussion in healthcare quality circles.


As Doris Peter, Ph.D, director of our Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, explained to the Wall Street Journal, the divergent findings are not a surprise to us. We are still early in the movement toward collecting and reporting clear, relevant, actionable data on hospital quality.  Consumer Reports, Leapfrog Group, US News & World Report, and Healthgrades are rating different aspects of hospital quality.


I want to remind our partners and friends that here at Consumer Reports, our focus is on patient safety and the needs of consumers.


Each year, about 440,000 people die from a preventable medical harm inside a U.S. hospital. We want that to change. A key goal for us is to help raise people's awareness about the safety of their local hospitals, so they can choose to avoid low performers (if they have a choice of hospital) or take action to protect themselves once they are there. For example, if a hospital is categorized as poor at communicating with patients about which drugs they should be taking, patients need to spend more time making sure they understand the instructions.


Today, the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center presents findings in a comprehensive and easy-to-use way that people can use to help identify the right hospital for their care and treatment. And we strive to improve our methods and presentation of Ratings for the benefit of consumers.


In particular, we are constantly seeking and demanding better data. The need for reliable, up-to-date, consumer-centric data is essential for all of us working in this field. With better data will come better ratings and, most importantly, better information for consumers.


Consumer Reports' constituency is, and will always be, the consumer. While some other raters have business models that involve payments from hospitals, ours does not. We accept no money from hospitals. When we make our Ratings available more widely through our partners, we do so with strict conditions that ensure the information is for the benefit of employees and members.


Our independence and objectivity make us different. And that's why consumers have put their trust in us for decades.

Tara Montgomery
Senior Director, Health Impact

Choosing Wisely: when to draw blood
Whether they're aware of it or not, Choosing Wisely is making a difference to people hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Over the past 15 months, residents and hospitalists have greatly reduced the use of daily blood draws for routine tests. By sharing testing rates with each other, physicians have become more aware of their unnecessary lab orders, and overuse has dropped without affecting patient safety. So far, more than 4,000 unneeded lab requests have been eliminated. Hospital management reports another benefit: greater awareness of Choosing Wisely values in general among physicians and nurses.

Our newest partners

Consumer Health Choices welcomes its newest partners in distributing Choosing Wisely materials.


Help Me Health believes that by better aligning provider service delivery with patient needs and expectations, outcomes will improve, satisfaction scores will increase, overall health care worker satisfaction will increase, and greater financial efficiency is realized across the system. To achieve these goals, Help Me Health offers content-driven educational products: full- and half-day workshops, webinars, and on-demand e-learning with compliance testing options, each supported by an internal organizational development program.


Westchester Library System collaborates with 38 libraries in Westchester County to provide access to resources and services that enhance and support library service for the county's more than 940,000 residents.  In addition to providing critical, efficient technical services, WLS delivers programs that engage underserved populations, including low-income adults, seniors, the disabled, and disconnected youth.
Antibiotics on the agenda in Connecticut
In a concerted effort to call patients' attention to antibiotic overuse, VNA Community Healthcare (a Connecticut visiting nurse association) and The Health Neighborhood (a consortium of 30 health, community, and eldercare organizations) are banding together to distribute Choosing Wisely materials among their constituents. A May 5 kickoff event will showcase Consumer Reports materials for patients and their families, such as a poster listing "5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Take Antibiotics," a low-literacy trifold brochure for seniors, and flash drives for distributing to cable TV stations a 30-second animated public service announcement. The participating organizations' constituents include frail elderly home-care patients, young people with neurological disabilities, and people with mental health disorders.  

Support our work
Knowing that you're a fan of Consumer Reports Health, we'd like to invite you to make a charitable contribution. Your contribution will help us remain a leading voice in championing consumers' access to high-quality health care. We hope you'll find it's a cause worthy of your support.

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