Some hospitals in Belgium will be rewarded with extra resources from 1 July, based on the level of satisfaction reported by patients, federal health minister Maggie De Block said. The measure concerns general hospitals, and not university and teaching hospitals whose function is somewhat different. Patients will be polled, and the establishment given a score out of 80 points. According to that score, they will be awarded a share of a budget of €6 million – equivalent to less than one percent of the whole hospital budget.
As well as patient satisfaction, hospitals can also gain points for their treatment of breast cancer or for the use of antibiotics – an important matter for the future treatment of bacterial infections.
Issues such as language availability – an issue in Brussels hospitals, where Dutch-speaking patients complain of not finding staff who speak their language – are not included in the initial poll, though the criteria used will be broadened out in the future, De Block said.
From 2020, for instance, hospitals can also be rated on the number of deaths, which some critics have pointed out may not be an indication of lack of quality at all, but the reverse: a hospital which offers cutting-edge or revolutionary treatments may be more likely to have a higher mortality rate, but also a higher rate of life-saving procedures.