Hospital Compare Has Lots of Info, Too Similar to
Make Easy Decisions
Hospitals nationwide have achieved 98% compliance
with reporting data, likely represents a substantial improvement in
systems and safety
By Stephanie Stephens,
HBNS Contributing Writer
March 22, 2014 - There is good news and not-so-good
news about Medicare’s Hospital Compare website, designed to help
patients choose hospitals with the best quality rating matching their
need. The good news is that an amazing 98 percent of hospitals are
participating. On the downside, however, patients can’t distinguish the
quality of performance of one hospital from another.
The results of this new study share reported in
Health Services Research.
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
website, Medicare.gov’s Hospital Compare, seeks to provide patients with
actionable, relevant information regarding the quality of the health
care providers in their own area,” said lead study author Kyan Cyrus
Safavi, M.D., M.B.A. at Yale University School of Medicine.
Safavi and his co-authors wondered whether Hospital
Compare’s ratings allowed patients to distinguish a top-performing
hospital in a local area, and then “to make an intelligent data-driven
“Since it’s important to empower patients to make
better decisions about where they seek care, we wanted to know more
about how that process is really going - and what kind of data they
really see,” he added.
Hospital Compare website, patients have access to data about a
collection of surgical process of care measures from the Surgical Care
Improvement Project (SCIP), Safavi explained. SCIP is a national
partnership of organizations interested in improving surgical care by
significantly reducing surgical complications, in particular, surgical
The researchers found that the nearly 3,000
hospitals across the U.S that reported SCIP data, generally performed
well with little variation, making it difficult for patients to
differentiate between hospitals in their region.
“The pattern held across many diverse regional
geographic areas nationwide,” Safavi said.
“Patients use this type of data frequently,
especially when making decisions about elective or semi-elective
surgeries. There’s a missed opportunity to provide those patients with
more transparent and reliable information to better influence their
Enter your Zip, City of State (to compare hospitals)
Click on boxes beside 3 hospitals you want to check
Go to bottom of the page and click green button “Compare Now”
Click on tab for Readmissions, Complications and Deaths
Read down list of choices and click Healthcare Associated
Information drops in below – read down list to find information
Measuring other processes of care, however, can
help patients distinguish between hospitals, he said. “For example, what
is the organization and safety of the operating environment, and how
much attention is a hospital paying to post-surgical wound care?
Hospital outcomes can also distinguish quality.”
Richard P. Dutton, M.D., M.B.A. and executive
director of the Anesthesia Quality Institute, agreed that more attention
could be paid to the bigger picture.
“This article illustrates a common pitfall with
public reporting: measures that can be documented and risk adjusted
adequately to support fair publication may represent only a small factor
in the patient’s outcome,” he said.
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“Things that matter more, such as perioperative
mortality [mortality during admission, anesthesia, surgery and
recovery], or the actual occurrence of a surgical site infection, are
harder to measure fairly and much harder to risk adjust.”
What’s not emphasized in the article, however, is
the benefit of a focused improvement in care in one specific area,
Dutton said. “That hospitals nationwide have achieved 98 percent
compliance with these SCIP measures likely represents a substantial
improvement in systems and safety that is itself a laudable
>> Research Source:Health Services Research is the official journal of the
Academy Health and is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. on behalf of
the Health Research and Educational Trust.
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