SSMD are used to enhance transparency, improve quality and facilitate patient choice. The use of SSMD is controversial, but patients’ views on such data are largely unknown.
The aim of this study was therefore to explore the views of patients and to identify their priorities for outcome reporting in vascular surgery.
A prospective questionnaire study of 165 patients receiving care in a single academic vascular unit was performed. Data on patients’ current understanding and use of SSMD, together with future priorities were collected.
Of the 165 patients 80% were unaware of SSMD. 72% thought they should be made aware of the data, although 63% thought they were likely to misinterpret the results. The majority recognized the utility of SSMD to inform treatment (60%) and surgeon (53%) choice. The majority prioritize the patient-surgeon relationship (90%) and past experiences of care (71%) when making treatment decisions. A significant majority (66% vs 49%; P < 0.005) would favour hospital-level to surgeon-level data. The main patient priorities for future outcome reporting were waiting list length (56%), the quality of hospital facilities (55%), and patient satisfaction (54%).
The aims of SSMD reporting are not currently being met, and both patients and healthcare professionals have shared concerns over the nature and usefulness of the data. Patients express a preference for hospital-level outcomes and prioritize the experience of receiving care over outcomes when making treatment decisions. Future outcome reporting should include patient-directed hospital-level metrics that are readily accessible and understood by all.