"What do patients care about when they have to go to the hospital because they're sick? They want to survive and do well. So I say the things that really matter are those that measure patient outcomes, avoiding infections, medication errors, and other medical errors."
And while patient experience, as measured by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys, is important, too and should be included, hospital boards should direct their CEOs to work on whatever quality areas need improvement. "It depends a little bit on where you are on the performance curve already."
Research "Missteps" Cited
How Jha and colleagues interpreted their findings was criticized by Warren Browner, MD, CEO of California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, who wrote in an accompanying invited commentary that the Harvard researchers made "several missteps" in confusing correlation with causation.
"…Their most disturbing finding was that CEO pay correlated with patient satisfaction, but not with quality. They see this as a missed opportunity and recommend that hospital boards provide incentives for CEOs to meet quality goals," Browner wrote.