Visiting professor raises questions over disclosure of hospital mortality rates online

7 May 2010

Professor Jonathan Gabe of Royal Holloway, University of London is visiting the University of Sydney to speak on his research which explores the impact of the public reporting of hospital death rates on clinicians and managers.
The disclosure of hospital mortality rates has been adopted in several countries in recent years and in England have been published on the Internet since 2008 as a means of improving performance and enabling 'patient choice'. However some have suggested such disclosure encourages the avoidance of clinically difficult cases, threatens professional autonomy and obscures other measures of clinical performance.
"As was seen in debate surrounding the introduction of MySchool in Australia, public disclosure of performance information on the internet raises many issues for stakeholders," comments Professor Gabe.
Professor Gabe will explore questions about the professional organisation of surgeons, patient trust, technological access and notions of safety and accountability in his address to the invitation only HealthGov Workshop convened by Professor Stephanie Short at the University of Sydney on Friday 7 May.
HealthGov, the Australian Health Governance Research Network, brings together researchers, regulators and professionals. It promotes good doctors, safer patients and improved access to healthcare.

About Professor Jonathan Gabe
Professor Jonathan Gabe is an eminent medical sociologist from the University of London who has published extensively on consumerism, choice in healthcare and private health insurance. He is currently planning further research on users of the UK National Health Service and of private health care in light of recent health policy developments in the UK, which have weakened the boundary between public and privately funded health care. The introduction of Independent Sector Treatment Centres for elective surgery and 'choose and book', where National Health Service patients can now opt to be sent to private clinics paid for by the National Health Service, raise important questions for users of health care. To what extent do users of the National Health Service see these developments as increasing choice and encouraging them to be more consumerist? Do those with private health insurance feel that the advantages of having private health insurance have been undermined as a result of private health care being made available to National Health Service patients at no extra cost? This work promises to forge new ground in medical sociological understanding of the extent to which users of health services want to behave as 'informed' consumers.