03 Dec You can add comments to your SRTR Reports – So what?
By: Koren Fay
Once the SRTR has opened the private viewing of your data and report before the public release, you are invited to add comments. These comments are then attached to the public release of the data. But what could your center say here? What should your center say here? And why would you bother? In fact, these comments can be a very helpful and powerful tool for your center to frame your results in the best possible light.
First, the why. Why add comments? The data is pretty straightforward and easy to understand, right? (No, I wasn’t just trying to get you to laugh there). Remember, it is not just transplant centers that are reviewing this data. Patients, families, and referring physicians are looking at this and making decisions about which transplant center to go to. Thinking about it like that, these comments should be considered as another form of marketing.
There is so much more to your center than just the numbers. Outcomes are pretty much “as expected” at every center, so what else can your center offer patients? Maybe you have outreach clinics that are close to where your patients live? Has your organization secured reduced-priced hotels for family during the patient’s stay? If your team has worked hard to streamline your processes so that patients can be referred and then seen within two days, you can highlight this. The list of what makes your center special and why someone should choose your team can go on and on.
The comments are also reviewed by insurance companies making transplant network decisions. Again, you want them to know more about your center than just your numbers. Highlighting improvements you have made in the past year, like reducing your length of stay or developing ABO-incompatible donation options makes your center more attractive to insurance plans as well as to patients. Insurance plans have been known to review SRTR data, review the comments, and reach out to centers to discuss joining their COE or other special programs. Therefore, this is a great way to display the good work that you are doing that is not reflected in your numbers. In addition, if/when your outcomes decline a bit or your transplant rate drops, stating that you are aware of this in advance and the steps you have taken to correct it can make your COE application stronger and discourage the insurance payers from removing you from their network.
So what do you put in the comments? We touched on some of this above. Think about this as an opportunity for marketing your program. Use the submission to showcase your “elevator speech” about what is good about your program. Hit the highlights. Talk about what distinguishes you from other centers in your region. Be sure to include any special projects or improvements that you have made within the last year. And if things have taken a slight “detour” from where you want them to be, proactively talk about them and what you are doing to fix them. It’s OK to acknowledge the shortcomings – they will see it in the data – and this is your opportunity to say what the data can’t and what you are doing to fix things. Be as concise as you can as no one is interested in long answers. As you know, readers will read quickly or only skim, so you may need to prioritize the points you want to make. The use of bullet points can help the reader quickly digest what is being presented. And use language that is easily understood by someone outside of transplant. Write as if you were speaking to a patient, a vice president in your organization, or the medical director of the insurance company. After reading this, they should all know why they should choose your program for their care.