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Study Found Surgeon Quality More Important to Patients Than Hospital Quality, Patients Willing to Accept Higher Copayments for Higher Quality of Care

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A study published in Health Affairs sought to examine patients’ interpretations of star ratings of public reported surgeon- and hospital-specific quality-of-care measures and their importance relative to other considerations (for example, cost, distance traveled). The authors conducted a discrete choice experiment in an outpatient setting (an academic joint arthroplasty practice) to study trade-offs that patients were willing to make in choosing a provider for a hypothetical total joint arthroplasty. Two hundred consecutive new patients presenting for hip or knee pain in 2018 were included. The average patient was willing to pay $2,607 and $3,152 extra for an additional hospital or physician star, respectively, and an extra $11.45 to not travel an extra mile for arthroplasty care. History of prior surgery and prior experience with rating systems reduced the relative value of an incremental star by $539.25 and $934.50, respectively. Patients appear willing to accept significantly higher copayments for higher quality of care, and surgeon quality seems relatively more important than hospital quality. Further study is needed to understand the value and trust patients place in publicly reported hospital and surgeon quality ratings.

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