Hospital Consumer Assist
Hospital Consumer Assist is sponsored by the Arkansas Hospital
Association (AHA). Recognizing the growing consumer need for quality and
pricing information, this project was unanimously commissioned by the
AHA Board of Directors. The Board also felt that it was necessary to
have a third party be responsible for the pricing and quality data
collection and reporting. Hospital Consumer Assist is a work-in-progress
and will evolve over time to better meet the needs of Arkansas'
citizens. As a result, the AHA contracted with ahd.com to oversee this
Sharing price information is challenging
because hospital care is unique. Hospital prices can vary based on
patient needs and the services they use; prices reflect the added costs
of hospitals' public service role – like fire houses and police stations
– serving the essential health care needs of a community 24 hours a day,
seven days a week; and a hospitals' prices can't yet reflect important
information from other key players like the price of physician care
while in the hospital or how much of the bill a patient's insurance
company may cover.
Seek Information From Other Sources
While this Web site provides useful information, it should not be the
sole source of information about hospital choice. It is only one tool
that can be used as a guide for helping consumers become more active
participants in the health care system. In addition, all consumers of
health care services are strongly encouraged to seek other information
from their physician. Ask questions such as:
Why is the hospitalization being recommended?
Make sure you understand what operation, treatments, tests are
needed and why.
If a surgical procedure is involved, why is it
necessary? Reasons to have surgery may vary from relieving or
preventing pain to diagnosing a problem to improving body function.
Ask your physician to specifically explain why this procedure is being
What are the alternatives? Are
there other treatment options available based on your current medical
some cases, medication or non-surgical treatments, such as lifestyle
changes, may be as helpful in improving a condition as surgery. Your
physician should clearly explain the benefits and risks of these
options so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not
surgery is necessary.
What are the benefits of the surgery and how
long will they last?
Also, ask your physician about published information regarding the
outcomes of the recommended procedure. This will allow you to make an
informed decision and have realistic expectations about the surgery.
What are the risks and possible complications of
having the operation? Surgery always carries some risks,
so it is important to weigh the benefits against the risks before
surgery. Ask your physician to outline the possible complications,
such as infection and bleeding, and possible side effects that could
follow the procedure. You should also discuss pain and ways to manage
any pain that may follow the procedure.
What happens if you do not have the operation?
about the prognosis for your condition if other modes of treatment
If you decide, after weighing the benefits and
risks of the surgery, not to have the operation, what will happen?
You need to know whether the condition will worsen or if there is a
possibility that it may resolve itself.
Can the care be provided equally as well on an
outpatient basis that does not involve an overnight hospital stay?
Is home health care an option? The same health care
services may be available in a setting other than an inpatient
What is the physician's experience in performing
this procedure? You can minimize the risks of surgery by
choosing a physician who is thoroughly trained and experienced in
performing the procedure. You may ask the physician about his/her
experience with the procedure being performed, including the number of
times he/she has performed it, and his/her record of successes, as
well as complications.
What can I expect during recovery?
Ask your physician what to expect in the first few days following
surgery, as well as in the weeks and months that follow. You need to
know how long you will be hospitalized, what limitations will be
placed on you, and if there are special supplies or equipment you will
need upon discharge. Knowing ahead of time what to expect will help
you to cope and recover more quickly following the surgery.
addition, ask your insurance company what is covered under your health
plan and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket for the
recommended care. If you are concerned about your ability to pay, talk
to a financial counselor at the hospital prior to admission, if
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