SKMC goes on record with results

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Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) will become the first hospital in the UAE to disclose extensive information online about the quality of its care, in a bid for increased transparency in the region's healthcare industry, the hospital's CEO has said.

The Abu Dhabi hospital has pledged to post a percentage of its morbidity and mortality rates, along with patient figures, to bolster its reputation among patients.

"We want to be upfront," said CEO Dr Ken Ouriel. "How many of these operations we did, what our outcomes are with specific diseases - we want to see how we compare to certain benchmarks. We might not always be above the benchmark, but patients have a right to know."

The online data will be reprinted in an annual pamphlet for patients, Ouriel added, to give a snapshot of the facility's clinical strengths and weaknesses.

The news is a bold move in the UAE's increasingly competitive healthcare market. Hospitals have traditionally held data close to their chests, as the Ministry of Health does not mandate disclosure to patients.

Ouriel acknowledges SKMC's move is likely to attract criticism from rival hospitals. "Disclosing data is always viewed with suspicion," he said. "We did it in Cleveland and hospitals complained, but you know who didn't? The patients. And that is who our customer is."

With compulsory insurance on track for implementation, however, medical centers will be expected to account more fully for their results to patients and third-party payers.

Ouriel admitted that SKMC's data would be selective. "It won't be a wide-open book of everything we do, because lay-people don't understand the statistics in a vacuum.

"If we reported our mortality rate at the Cleveland Clinic for cardiac surgery, it would be higher than, say, a community hospital in the middle of Nebraska, because we accept more difficult cases.

"But I do, slowly, want to see a greater degree of transparency in what we're doing here."

The scheme is expected to be in place by the end of 2008.

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