Good Medicine Doesn’t Always Taste Good

One of the first healthcare lessons we learn as children is that good medicine doesn’t necessarily taste good.  In fact, sometimes the best medicine tastes pretty bad.

That lesson is brought to mind by last week’s Modern Healthcare article observing that many of CMS’s “five-star hospitals” scored low on quality metrics other than patient satisfaction.  The article pointed out that of 151 five-star hospitals with data on three other quality measures, 39% were penalized for excessive readmissions, and 47% scored 5 or higher for hospital-acquired conditions on a 10-point scale, where 10 is the worst.  (There remaining 100 five-star hospitals didn’t have data for the other quality measures.)

The scores demonstrate the folly of using the term “five-star hospital” the same way we use “five-star hotel.”  Guest satisfaction is the only goal of a hotel.  For hospitals, patient satisfaction isn’t the only goal.  In fact, it’s not even the main goal.

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