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Web Site Helps Patients Prepare for Hospital Stay

Note to Reporters/Editors: Next week, May 11-17, is National Hospital Week. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has issued a proclamation honoring Texas hospitals.

AUSTIN, Texas, May 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As hospitals across the country prepare to celebrate National Hospital Week May 11-17, the Texas Hospital Association is emphasizing patient-focused resources available through its Web site, including a new section on advance directives. Consumers can visit to get answers to questions such as: What do I look for when choosing a hospital? Why is it important to put my medical wishes in writing? How do I estimate my out-of-pocket costs?

Patients have a myriad of questions when faced with a hospital stay, and THA's online resource can provide many of the answers. "More than ever before, consumers are taking an active role in managing their own health care, but the wealth of information available on the Internet can be overwhelming and confusing," noted Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, president/CEO of Texas Hospital Association.

THA's consumer-focused Web site attempts to cut through the clutter by providing carefully screened resources and access to tools that help Texas patients make better informed choices about their health care. Information on hospital costs/quality and advance directives is especially popular.

Visitors to THA's site can view and compare charge data on inpatient hospital services provided at Texas hospitals through Texas PricePoint. This helpful resource includes charge data on the most common inpatient services, links to quality data, and general and contact information on all Texas hospitals. Through basic and advanced queries, users can request information on a single hospital or from several to allow comparisons. Once a hospital's information is displayed, users have the option of clicking on a link to the hospital's own Web site if one exists, where they can find more specific information on hospital billing policies, and patient rights and responsibilities.

Another section of helps patients learn about the importance of making decisions about their care and putting those wishes in writing. Visitors can review helpful questions and answers, read about the four types of advance directives, and download the various forms in both English and Spanish. "Unfortunately, many people don't want to talk about life-and-death issues with their family, especially if they are young and healthy," said Stultz. "But the middle of a medical crisis is the worst time to begin thinking about these critical questions. Think through the issues, share your wishes with your family and -- most important -- put them in writing before you come to the hospital."

Local hospital Web sites also can be a rich source of information. These sites generally include details on everything from parking and the admissions process, to visiting hours and how to resolve questions about your bill. Some hospitals even offer secure, online pre-registration. But, Stultz notes, nothing takes the place of good, old-fashioned human interaction.

"If you have questions or concerns when preparing for a hospital stay, talk to your doctor or someone on his or her staff," Stultz said. "Or call the hospital directly. The admissions staff is there to help."

About the Texas Hospital Association

Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state's hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members' abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents more than 85 percent of the state's hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 340,000 health care professionals statewide.

NOTE: Effective May 19, THA has a new address (telephone numbers and e-mail addresses will not change). Please update your records accordingly. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 679010, Austin, TX 78768-9010. Physical Address: 1108 Lavaca, Suite 700, Austin, TX 78701-2172.

CONTACT: Amanda Engler, APR


512/517-1133 (cell)

SOURCE Texas Hospital Association
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