An overview of recent major studies and developments in health care and health policy has arrived via the Hospital Alliance for Research Collaboration’s latest bulletin.
You can download the full bulletin here. Dr Mary Haines, the bulletin’s editor and Health Services Research Director at the Sax Institute, says it showcases some important research findings that challenge three assumptions about healthcare and also provoke questions for new lines of research inquiry.
She writes that these are:
“Assumption 1: Inpatient surgical mortality is largely due to differences in complications rates between hospitals – is this the case?
A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that this assumption is not the full story. While there is variation in inpatient surgical mortality this is not associated with differences in complication rates between hospitals. The key factor contributing to the death rates in the hospitals was a failure of hospital staff to read the signs of deteriorating patients who had post-surgical complications and take quick action to rescue the patients.
Assumption 2: Most Australians have high health literacy – is this the case?
Given the high levels of adult literacy in Australia, most of us would assume that the average Australian is health literate in the sense that they can understand and act on health information. So it will come as surprise to know that a survey has shown that 45% of Australians have poor health literacy. This only serves to underline the importance of improving health literacy if we want to increase patient involvement in healthcare decision making.
Assumption 3: Hospital performance report cards alone will provoke hospitals to improve quality – is this the case?
A population-based cluster randomised trial found that the public release of data on cardiac quality indicators did not stimulate hospitals to undertake quality improvement activities that improve healthcare processes and patient outcomes. The authors conclude that hospital report cards need to be released alongside other quality improvement strategies to enhance the system wide effectiveness of future report cards.
Nothing like some good evidence to makes us question our assumptions!”