New hospital data release allows year-to-year comparisons

columbiahospitalWith the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services release of new data showing what hospitals across the country charge Medicare for the same treatment or procedure in 2012, AHCJ has gone a step further to help members compare hospitals from one year to the next.

CMS released data files that include bills submitted by 3,500 hospitals for the 100 most commonly performed inpatient conditions in 2011 and 2012. This allows a basis for some local or regional comparisons and a starting point for stories on hospital costs and services.

AHCJ combined the two files to include the hospital name and location, the number of patients with the specific conditions discharged, hospital charges and the amount paid to the hospital for both years. The file covers only inpatient charges. Members can download the file here and read details about each data element, links to other documentation, and how the datasets differ from one year to the next. Not every hospital will be listed for every top 100 condition. If the hospital records 10 or fewer discharges, CMS excludes those numbers because of privacy concerns.

In addition to comparing costs, reporters can see if local hospitals have increased or decreased the treatment of specific conditions. Those changes might indicate changes in local physician population, changes in community needs, opening or closing of hospital services, or even hospital marketing efforts.

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