Category Archives: Hospitals

New tip sheet outlines criteria for reporting on hospital rankings

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

star-ratingReporting on hospital ratings — the “best of,” “top ten” and other rankings designed to help consumers with decision making are not necessarily all they’re cracked up to be. So much more goes in to these rankings than just the letter or number grade. Savvy reporters should pause and consider many angles before jumping in to proclaim that their local hospital is “best,” “worst” or somewhere in between.

Ratings certainly help with improving transparency and the patient’s right to know. However, it’s important that journalist know how to read between the lines and question the methodology and potential biases.

Liz Seegert has put together a new tip sheet on the topic based on ideas presented at an event last month sponsored by AHCJ’s New York chapter. A panel moderated by ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein featured Robert Panzer, M.D., chief quality officer at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a steering committee member for the Healthcare Association of New York State; Leah Binder, chief executive of the Leapfrog Group; and Marshall Allen, a reporter for ProPublica.

For AHCJ members: Comparison tool for hospital Medicare charges

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

downloading-and-uploading-data-iconAHCJ just updated its version of Medicare inpatient charge data covering hospitals across the United States.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated its data, showing what hospitals charge Medicare for the same treatment or procedure. Government data files include bills submitted by 3,500 hospitals for the 100 most commonly performed inpatient treatments in federal fiscal years 2011 through 2014. This allows a basis for some local or regional comparisons and a starting point for stories on hospital costs and services. Continue reading

What journalists should know about hospital ratings

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

PhotoJoel Dinda via Flickr

Photo: Joel Dinda via Flickr

Journalists should take hospital ratings with a healthy dose of skepticism, according to experts at a recent AHCJ New York chapter event. Simply looking at an institution’s overall rating is just the start. Reporting that without understanding what’s being rated and how “success” is measured does a disservice to your audience.

Ratings are far from perfect and are ever evolving. That leaves journalists in kind of a quandary, noted chapter president Trudy Lieberman. “What do we do about the ratings, how do we judge them, how do we use them in our stories and which ones should we use?” Continue reading

AHCJ update: Hospital mortality and readmission data now available

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

downloading-and-uploading-data-iconAHCJ just updated and simplified its version of the hospital mortality and readmission data available exclusively to members.

Going back to 2008 for mortality and 2009 for readmission, journalists can download spreadsheet files to filter and find hospitals with histories of worse or better expected rates of patient outcomes within 30 days of discharge. Continue reading

Indiana project to reduce hospitalization of nursing home residents gets boost

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: Alyssa L. Miller via Flickr

Photo: Alyssa L. Miller via Flickr

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) thinks Indiana University may be on to something when it comes to more effective nursing home care. It recently announced a second round of funding for Project OPTIMISTIC, which stands for Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical Quality and Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care. Continue reading