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Understanding The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Public Reporting Of Surgeon-Specific Outcome Data

Author: Elaine M. Burns, Chris Pettengell, Thanos Athanasiou, Ara Darzi
$15.00

Public reporting of outcome data is increasingly being used at the institutional and clinician levels and has become mandatory in some parts of the United States and the United Kingdom. The intended benefits are to drive quality improvement, demonstrate transparency, facilitate patient choice, and allow identification of poor performance. Public reporting of surgeon-specific mortality data, however, may have unintended consequences that include causing surgeons to become risk-averse, discouraging innovation, having an impact on training, and prompting “gaming” in health care. Given the small number of some surgical operations performed by individual surgeons, such data are unlikely to identify outliers or poor performers in a valid way. If metrics are deemed necessary and required to be reported publicly, they should be procedure specific; account for sample size; and focus not solely on mortality but also on other outcomes such as quality of life, patient satisfaction, and experience.

Public reporting of outcome data is increasingly being used at the institutional and clinician levels and has become mandatory in some parts of the United States and the United Kingdom. The intended benefits are to drive quality improvement, demonstrate transparency, facilitate patient choice, and allow identification of poor performance. Public reporting of surgeon-specific mortality data, however, may have unintended consequences that include causing surgeons to become risk-averse, discouraging innovation, having an impact on training, and prompting “gaming” in health care. Given the small number of some surgical operations performed by individual surgeons, such data are unlikely to identify outliers or poor performers in a valid way. If metrics are deemed necessary and required to be reported publicly, they should be procedure specific; account for sample size; and focus not solely on mortality but also on other outcomes such as quality of life, patient satisfaction, and experience.

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