There are several goals for this project. The first is to provide an increasingly comprehensive picture of the "system" of health care. Where hospitals, physicians and health insurers were once separate and independent, those distinctions are swiftly becoming less clear. With the growth of managed care and the emergence of highly organized health systems, it is increasingly important to examine the interrelationships among these three groups. By reporting patient outcome information about these important entities in one place, the Council is allowing the public to examine these interrelationships and ask intelligent questions about the quality of health care.
Secondly, the guide is designed to provide purchasers with information that they can use to obtain greater value for the health care dollar when it comes to making health care purchasing decisions. Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, a treatment for one kind of heart disease and the subject of this report, is a high-volume, high-dollar procedure.
The third goal is to provide hospitals, surgeons and health plans with meaningful comparative data about CABG patients and the outcomes of bypass surgery. There is evidence that this kind of information prompts providers to take steps to improve the overall quality of bypass surgery.
The fourth goal, as always, is to provide patients who are considering CABG surgery, and their families, with data that will help them have more informed discussions with their physicians. Since every patient has different health concerns and risks, the Council encourages patients to discuss the information in this guide with the appropriate physicians who can answer their questions and concerns.