Long Island Hospitals Don't Make the Grade with ConsumersApr 9, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP According to a recent federal consumer survey, Long Islanders are not satisfied with their hospitals and, on average, Long Island hospitals scored lower in patient satisfaction in eight out of 10 measures as compared with other hospitals statewide or even nationally. "I can't explain it, other than we have a more critical audience on Long Island," said Kevin Dahill, chief executive of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council. "The good news is that so many Long Island hospitals participated and they are going to learn from it.”
For the first time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has posted consumer survey information on its Hospital Compare Web site. This year, the survey is voluntary, with the decision to allow the government to release the findings remaining with each hospital. On Long Island, the majority of hospitals—18 out of 23—reported their findings; of 4,486 hospitals nationwide, about half—or 2,521—released patient satisfaction information, according to the Medicare agency. Next year, every hospital will be mandated to publicly report their survey results which currently originated from a random sample of discharged patients from October 2006 through June 2007; hospitals began collecting data in July 2007.
Dahill complained the Web site is difficult to navigate and that "the questions are so subjective." Although he said hospitals must review the data closely, he questioned the survey’s scientific validity. Liz Goldstein, the federal agency's chief of consumer assessments and health care surveys, said the survey was developed in 2002, after "extensive cognitive testing," comments from focus groups, doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators and pilot studies. As of March 29, when the patient-satisfaction data became available, the Hospital Compare site recorded 1.1 million page views; it received 161,000 views the prior week.
Long Island's largest health system—North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System—did not do well and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park scored below the state and national average in all 10 areas. North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset scored below the state and national average in eight measures. Mark Solazzo, chief operating officer for North Shore-LIJ, said many changes have been instituted to improve patient satisfaction at its 13 hospitals, including implementing a $1.9 billion capital improvement and ensuring unit manager accountability for patient satisfaction.
Meanwhile, Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport scored at or above the state average in all 10 categories and at or above the national average in eight of 10 categories. Paul Connor, chief executive of the 80-bed hospital, said, "This is a small, little hospital that pays a lot of attention to general care." St. Francis Hospital, the cardiac center, received the highest percentages in seven categories for Long Island and was above the state average in nine. Dr. Akram Boutros, the hospital's chief administrative officer, attributed the high scores to the hospital's maintaining its founding mission: Patient-centered teamwork and a high staff-to-patient ratio.
Five Long Island hospitals did not release results: Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, Long Beach Medical Center, Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, and Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola.