Tag Archives: hospital compare

How are ACA’s quality measures affecting health care?

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

On a recent What the Health podcast, where I’m a frequent guest, we took some listeners’ questions. One was about what CMS does with all the data it collects on quality from health care facilities and providers – and whether there’s any evidence that the quality reporting actually improves outcomes for patients. Continue reading

Report shows how hospital rating reports can meet patients’ needs more effectively

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched the Hospital Compare website to let consumers evaluate hospital performance based on a star-rating system. For those seeking to analyze hospitals’ overall scores, the site is useful but its one-size-fits-all approach limits how much patients can design searches to match their individual needs.

Now researchers at the Rand Corporation have built a tool called the Personalized Hospital Performance Report Card that allows users to review, customize, and compare hospitals across the United States and develop their own custom ratings based on their most important performance areas. Continue reading

Hospital Compare helps reporter fact check claims

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

After the local county commission voted to close Birmingham’s Cooper Green Mercy Hospital and replace it with a hub-and-spoke system of distributed care, protesters began to rally around the institution, claiming that its closure would hit poor residents hard, and that the hospital had earned some of the highest patient satisfaction numbers in the nation.

When WBHM’s Tanya Ott heard talk of patient satisfaction ratings, she took the simple step of firing up Hospital Compare and seeing how Cooper Green stacked up against local competitors. As it happens, Cooper Green has, in recent years, lagged behind the hospitals to which its patients would likely be diverted.

So, with just a few clicks, Ott, who posted the Hospital Compare charts directly into her story, brought important context to a contentious local issue. For more on how to use this and other tools to evaluate local hospitals, see AHCJ’s Hospital Compare resources.

Hospitals learning not to fear public data

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In HealthLeaders magazine, a publication that targets “healthcare executives and senior decision-makers,” Cheryl Clark writes that the recent explosion of publicly available health care quality data may force hospitals to change the way they approach unflattering numbers.

Encouragingly, Clark quotes officials who have found that the only way to deal with all these new numbers is not to ignore or discredit them, a tempting option that has often been the default in the past, but instead to release even more data, and to better educate the public about the numbers that are out there.

(James) Conway says that whatever they do, hospitals should not do what they used to when negative stories arose, “which was lay low, hope it vanishes, and take a ‘this too shall pass’ attitude. Or, if there’s data that says, for example, your coronary artery bypass graft profile is horrible, historically what hospitals have done is to discredit the data. It’s sort of like a pigeon in a shooting game.

“But what we’ve learned is that the organization must ask a critical question: Could this data be right?”

That, of course, is where health journalists come in.

Charles Ornstein, president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and an investigative healthcare reporter with ProPublica, says hospital executives should get used to heightened attention. The AHCJ is beefing up efforts to educate reporters on how to find and interpret quality statistics about healthcare providers, where to see inspection reports, and how to compare patient experience, readmission, and mortality rates.

“More reporters are realizing the treasure trove of information they can find,” he says. “For decades, hospitals fought to keep this information out of the public domain. But now that it is public, we as journalists have an obligation to make it relevant.”

As consumers see more hospital ‘report cards,’ reporters can explain their limitations

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

At Health Journalism 2012, Harvard’s Ashish K. Jha, M.D., M.P.H.,  told attendees to  watch for new hospital report cards from The Leapfrog Group that were going to be both comprehensive and consumer-friendly. Jha and some other top health quality/safety people were among the project’s advisers.

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People can understand letter grades – A through F. The idea is that a comprehensive approach – an overall grade – is more useful in the sense that, if a hospital gives fabulous and safe cardiac care, it doesn’t mean that a patient won’t get an avoidable infection during, say, a routine hernia operation or have a cesarean section that wasn’t unambiguously necessary.

Well, it turns out that the ratings aren’t just a tool in the whole consumer/quality movement. Some of the links at the end of this post can tell you more about the limits of these proprietary report cards versus public data – but consumers are seeing more and more of these “report cards” and you can use them for stories too. Continue reading

Disclosure of hospital infections still in its infancy

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On Forbes.com, Gergana Koleva evaluated the woeful state of national hospital-associated infection reporting, with the help of recently published research. As Koleva writes, such infections account for more than 8,000 deaths each year in the United States and add an estimated $10 billion in annual cost, and hospitals routinely collect valuable data on such things for internal use, yet no clear reporting standards exist on a national level.

The report … shows that only 21 states currently have legislation that requires monitoring and public reporting for surgical site infections. Of those, only eight states actually make the data publicly available, and only a total of 10 procedures – out of 250 possible types of surgeries – get reported.

And even many those states that reported some surgical infection rates as of late 2010 (Colorado, Massachussetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont)

Continue reading