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Answering Our Patients: How Good is the Care at D-H?

Answering Our Patients: How Good is the Care at D-H?

Every day, Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) providers and staff work hard to help patients and families recover from illness or injury, stay healthy, and understand their care. Recently, D-H launched a new way for patients to learn how we are performing on quality, safety and patient care metrics. On our website, d-h.org, we are sharing our performance against the 17 other large teaching hospitals in New England, and have made it easy for the public to access our patient experience ratings and complex case results.

Why is this information important? Our patients should—and now can—know what to expect when they get care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Our website is  designed to help patients and their families make better decisions about their care, in consultation with their doctors and nurses.

The goal is to deliver complex information in an easy-to-understand way so that patients can compare DHMC’s performance against similar hospitals in the region. This is a work in progress, as we will assess patients' and families' understanding of the data and whether the information is valuable to them.

The four questions: a powerful way to choose health care

Most patients and their loved ones arrive in the office knowing this: they want to be listened to and they want to leave on a path to better health. As we know, medical information is complex and can be hard to understand. One of the objectives for the new website content is to help patients ask the right questions so they can make more informed choices. When he talks to his own relatives, George T. Blike, MD, chief quality and value officer at D-H, suggests they ask four questions:

  1. Does the hospital see an adequate number of patients with my condition?
  2. Does the hospital manage the more complex patient cases?
  3. Does the hospital get better results for my condition?
  4. Does the hospital avoid complications better and have fewer patient re-admissions?

Reviewing and improving performance creates positive results

Dartmouth-Hitchcock has been on a four-year journey to deliver the highest-quality health care in the country and the best in New England among our peers. Leadership, providers and staff have steadily improved D-H quality, safety and patient experience, thanks to full engagement; data, measurement and feedback; as well as robust process improvement. These efforts earned D-H the Vizient 2016 Rising Star Award and increased the national composite score from Consumer Reports, which places DHMC in the top 10 percent of comparable hospitals in the nation and first place in New England, along with Maine Medical.

“These improvements are an impressive achievement, representing four years of steady, disciplined work to improve the care we deliver each and every day to every patient,” Blike says. “I’m so proud of the people I work with. It’s their achievement.”

“D-H employees operate in a challenging environment. Ours is the safety net hospital in the region, serving the neediest, often sickest population without adequate funding,” said Dr. Blike. “I hope that when everyone sees our fantastic results against peers—we are #1 among the 17 comparable New England hospitals—they will recognize the across-the-board improvements made in our outcomes, and our service to patients.”

This drive for continuous improvement in our clinics, hospital and affiliate hospitals is aimed directly at benefiting the people and communities we serve. It is a reflection of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s dedication to our patients and their families.