Online guide helps consumers make informed decisions on care

Published: Sept. 9, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Knowing that you will be visiting a hospital for medical treatment can make you feel very anxious. Knowing more about your health problem and how others have fared before you can help ease that anxiety. To that end, Sparrow has launched a free, new website, Sparrow Smart Health, a consumer-friendly guide that offers health information, hospital measurements, answers to health questions and links to programs and services to help consumers make informed decisions on where to find the best care.

"There is no better source of information for a consumer than a frank and honest discussion with their personal physician," said Dr. Larry Rawsthorne, M.D., Sparrow's senior vice president of medical affairs. "Hopefully, Sparrow Smart Health can lead consumers to useful information they can use to enhance this dialogue and lead to a healthier mid-Michigan."

The launch of Sparrow Smart Health is in conjunction with the release of the latest findings of Hospital Compare.

"At Sparrow, we believe quality reporting serves to increase transparency and enhance public accountability in health care," Rawsthorne said. "We hope this website will serve as a valuable source of information to begin a dialogue between patient and doctor and result in helping mid-Michigan families have the best possible outcomes."

Besides Hospital Compare, the new Sparrow Smart Health website also offers:

  • Health information through Medline, the National Library of Medicine's premier database.
  • Articles and information about quality measures
  • Free Sparrow services and programs

In the past year, Sparrow has earned national recognition as a Magnet nursing hospital and earned many quality endorsements, including designation as a Blue Distinction Center for cardiac care from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The latest findings of Hospital Compare are quality measures created through the efforts of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Health and Human Services, and other members of the Hospital Quality Alliance to compare hospitals on both patient satisfaction and health outcomes.

Sparrow executives said they are pleased with Hospital Compare measurements related to the delivery of clinical care to patients while in the acute-care hospital setting - for example, being placed above the national and state averages in five out of six categories related to Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) patients. But the hospital said it was not satisfied in its measurement for Acute Myocardial Infarction 30-Day Risk-Standardized Mortality, a measure related to the number of patients who pass away within 30 days of admission to the hospital.

Sparrow is working to develop a better understanding of the reasons for this measurement to help ensure improved quality of care to patients after they are discharged from our hospital. In addition to the launch of the Smart Health website, the hospital has announced a number of steps it is taking to ensure the delivery of the highest quality of care:

  • Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute (TCI) became part of Sparrow in December 2009 as a key step to achieve greater clinical integration of Sparrow, TCI, Michigan State University and private practice cardiologists.
  • A multidisciplinary team has reviewed every medical chart for AMI patients to review in-hospital care compared to clinical best practices. This team is also examining post-discharge care issues such as following discharge instructions, medication, self-care, access to primary care physicians, and follow-up visits to the patient's cardiologist.

In addition, Sparrow is announcing the start of a new program:

  • Free in-home, post-discharge care by Registered Nurses for AMI patients to ensure that our former inpatients are receiving optimal post-discharge care consistent with the discharging physician's instructions. Specially trained Registered Nurses will visit patients in their homes promptly after they have been discharged to ensure that the former patients are continuing their care as recommended by their physicians.
  • This is a unique program and Sparrow will be one of the first in the state to undertake such an effort.

"The Hospital Compare release demands that we understand how we deliver care and how we compare to other institutions," Rawsthorne said. "We also have to keep in mind that statistics are statistics, and only part of the story. What's most important is how we respond. At Sparrow, we realize that we have to - and will - become more involved in the post-acute care environment of our patients.