This section of Texas Health Compare is designed to help with your hospital-related questions - especially about quality and costs. If you have questions about specific health care coverage issues, send them to ConsumerProtection@tdi.state.tx.us.
Quick Links: Cost & Quality | Additional Advice
Texas Health Care Policy Council & the Texas Department of Insurance
Compare Cost & Quality . . .
When choosing a hospital ask yourself these key questions: (1) Does your health plan cover the hospital you want to use? (2) Does your doctor have privileges at the hospital? If not, you may have to keep looking. (3) Is the hospital accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and what does the JCAHO report say? [See our link to JCAHO's Quality Check below.] (4) If you will be using an outpatient surgery center or emergency care clinic, is it accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare.
The Texas Health Care Information Collection (THCIC) website [ www.dshs.state.tx.us/THCIC/ ] gathers information from hospitals and health maintenance organizations and publishes reports to help consumers compare and choose their hospitals and health plans. THCIC's website provides access to hospital-specific volume and mortality data and other helpful quality indicators.
The Hospital Compare website [ www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov ] developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) links consumers to hospital quality and performance information. It offers data on 17 widely accepted quality measures in treating heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia, and shows how the hospitals compare with state and national averages, as well as against their peers.
The Health Care Consumer Initiatives [ www.cms.gov/HealthCareConInit ] website contains cost information on hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.
The Texas PricePoint [ www.txpricepoint.org ] is a user-friendly website that includes charge data on the most common inpatient services, links to quality data, and general and contact information on all Texas hospitals. The website - which was developed by the Texas Hospital Association and uses hospital-supplied data from the THCIC and the annual survey of hospitals, as well as CMS' Hospital Compare and the Joint Commission - is operated under contract with the Wisconsin Hospital Association's (WHA) Information Center, a subsidiary of the WHA.
The Texas Hospital Comparison website [ www.tbgh.org/hospitalcompare.htm ] allows you to find links to a number of websites that provide helpful data on hospital costs and quality. The website was created by the Texas Business Group on Health and the Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health.
The Leapfrog Group website [ www.leapfroggroup.org/cp ] is a volunteer effort to help consumers research hospital quality information by ZIP code. The website surveys about 1,300 hospitals on 30 key safety practices, ranging from guidelines for preventing mistakes to more general safety measures.
The Quality Check website [ www.qualitycheck.org ] developed by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations [ www.JointCommission.org ] provides detailed data about quality of care levels in clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities. JCAHO is an independent health care accreditation organization. Information on accredited organizations is free. For outpatient surgery centers or emergency care clinics check the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare website [ www.aaahc.org ].
Some additional advice . . .
Find a Good Hospital
Before you need one, investigate the hospitals in your area. Check first on whether they are covered by your insurance plan. Then check as many of the following as possible:
- Do an accreditation check. See if the hospital has met the standards for accreditation set by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
- Go for volume - hospitals that do a lot of certain procedures are less likely to make mistakes.
- Ask about safety. Does the hospital have computerized systems for entering prescription requests or routines in place to guard against improper dispensing of drugs or incorrect dosages?
- What is the ratio of patients to registered nurses? The fewer patients, the better.
- Prepare for your stay - (1) Question your care or have a family member or friend ask questions; (2) Make sure you know what to expect before, during and after surgery; (3) Make a list of all tests, drugs and procedures you will need and bring it with you to the hospital. Check it every time someone gives you a pill or a test or a procedure.
- Check your chart. Ask your doctor to confirm key points of any procedures prior to going into surgery. It may reduce the chance for errors.
- Know the team. Be as familiar as possible with those who will be in the operating room.
Some Additional Quality Issues to Consider
- How many of the procedures you need does the hospital perform in a year? - Compare that number to other hospitals in your area and quality minimums.
- What is the best hospital for the procedure you need? - Not all hospitals have the highest quality ratings in every procedure.
- What does your physician recommend? - Check with your doctor and make sure you understand the reason for his recommendation.
- What is the quality of the hospital staff? - Check the percentage of physicians that are Board Certified in the specialty required for your procedure; the level of their training; and general staffing levels in the hospital.
- What are the outcome measures for your procedure? - Check mortality and complication rates.
- What do recent satisfaction surveys say about the hospital? -
Survey scores are one indicator for determining the quality of future hospital stays.
- Does the hospital appear clean? - If it doesn't, it may not be. That can lead to infection control problems.
- How good is communication? - Willingness to communicate with patients, family and caregivers is an important indicator of a hospital's quality.
- Does the hospital display a patient bill of rights? - Displaying a "bill of rights" is another good indicator of quality.
- The Find a Health Care Facility tool [ www.healthfinder.gov ] is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help you find a hospital or other health care facility while meeting specific criteria - ranging from such needs as an aging patient to a wounded veteran. It also provides help in finding all kinds of providers and other reliable health-related information.
The list of websites included here should not be considered complete, nor should their inclusion be considered as an endorsement by the Texas Department of Insurance. TDI does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy of the websites listed.
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