Axial Exchange ranks Florida hospitals with new Patient Engagement Index

Touts new way to grade hospitals in the post-reform era
By Mike Miliard
02:56 PM
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Axial Exchange, a developer of patient engagement technologies, unveiled this week its Patient Engagement Index, which ranks U.S. hospitals based on how involved their patient communities are with their own care.

The first index ranks just the top 74 hospitals in Florida – which was chosen, Axial officials say, because its demographics are a "bellwether" for the rest of the nation – based on independent third-party metrics. Rankings for other U.S. regions will be published in the coming months.

"Patient engagement matters to hospital success and to our nation as a whole," said Joanne Rohde, CEO of Axial Exchange, in a press statement. "It's time we put a stake in the ground that patient engagement is core to the quality of health care and the success, both financially and in terms of outcomes, of healthcare providers."

Patient satisfaction and engagement are key components of payment reform, accounting for nearly one-third of the score for Medicare's Value-Based Purchasing program, say Axial officials.

They point to a recent Commonwealth Funds-supported study showed that patients with the highest engagement had significantly lower costs and that the least engaged patients in the study generated 21 percent more health costs.

"Patient engagement is important because management of chronic illnesses involves action by both patient and provider," said Paul Y. Takahashi, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and a board advisor to Axial Exchange, in a statement. "Patients should feel empowered to be part of the medical plan, because research shows that active engagement can lead to improved outcomes and increased satisfaction."

The PEI ranks 74 major Florida hospital systems based on three metrics that research indicate can lower costs or improve outcomes:

  • Personal health resources (representing 50 percent of the score) is based on an aggregate score for hospitals that provided any of the following: read-only Internet access to health information, mobile applications, or interactive tools for managing ongoing health. Studies show that hospitals each of these types of personal health resources score better on reducing costs and improving outcomes than hospitals which do not. Axial cites one study which shows that patients who received help from their providers that they could share in decision-making saw 12.5 percent lower hospital admissions and lower costs.
  • Social engagement (25 percent of the score) is based on a weighted score of hospital ratings on leading social media and consumer ratings sites. A recent study showed a correlation between Facebook likes and care quality and patient satisfaction, while another study showed that among hospitals with more than five Yelp ratings, there is a high correlation with lower readmission and mortality rates.
  • Patient satisfaction (25 percent of the score) is measured by an annual Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services patient satisfaction survey called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Survey, a standardized instrument for measuring patients' perspectives on hospital care that has been endorsed by the National Quality Forum.

All Florida hospitals were sent a letter informing them of their ranking, say Axial officials, providing PEI methodology and links to the published data for consideration in their own initiatives toward meaningful use and heightened reimbursement levels.

Detailed methodology of the PEI is published here.

The ranking of Florida hospitals can be found here.

[See also: Q&A: The imPatient Movement]